ANAHEIM, Calif. - The Orioles' worst fears were confirmed yesterday with the news that center fielder Adam Jones has a fractured left foot, an injury that could end his impressive first season with the club.
Jones, who was injured Saturday when he fouled a pitch from the Seattle Mariners' Felix Hernandez off his foot, will wear a walking boot and be on crutches for the next two weeks before having another CT scan performed on his foot.
"I think he's looking at a minimum of four weeks out," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "It's a terrible thing for him and our team. I think the world of him. I hope he gets it taken care of."
Acquired in February from the Mariners as the centerpiece in the Erik Bedard trade, Jones is batting .279 with seven homers and 50 RBIs in 108 games. After getting off to a slow start, Jones hit .323 with two homers and 12 RBIs in June and .280 with three homers and 19 RBIs in July. He was 5-for-11 with two RBIs in two August games.
"Adam is one of those rare guys," Orioles president Andy MacPhail said. "I think the players draw energy from him. He's fun to watch play. He makes all of us a little better. It's going to be unfortunate that we're not going to be able to watch him for a while."
MacPhail acknowledged that the club will likely be cautious with Jones, not rushing him back just so he could play the final couple of weeks.
For now, Trembley will use veteran Jay Payton as his primary center fielder with Lou Montanez, whose contract was selected yesterday when Jones went on the disabled list, also receiving some time there. Montanez has primarily been a corner outfielder for Double-A Bowie.
"I would say Jay Payton with his experience will get an opportunity to play probably more than he was," said Trembley, not wanting to commit to a definitive starter. He did say he won't move Nick Markakis from right field to center.
Getting his chance
Long before he was told to board a flight to California and join the Orioles, Montanez knew something was up. He looked in the crowd at Bowie's Prince George's Stadium on Monday night and noticed MacPhail and Orioles minor league director David Stockstill.
"Everybody was walking on eggshells," Montanez said. "They took me out in the third inning, and I actually saw MacPhail when he went to the phone. I said, 'Something's going on.' Then I got taken out of the game and thought, 'They're not taking me out of the game to promote me to Triple-A. It's a little more important.' "
Montanez, 26, earned his first big league promotion by hitting .335 with 26 homers and 97 RBIs, leading the Eastern League in all three categories.
"It's a lot of perseverance throughout the years," said Montanez, who was the third overall pick in the 2000 draft by the Chicago Cubs and was managed by Trembley in Single-A. "That counts for a lot, [and] it makes you appreciate it a lot more. I can say I earned it this time around. It wasn't really being a high draft pick or money. This time, I kind of willed myself up here and forced the issue.
"It feels great that I finally got here. I'm trying to still soak it all in. It's a goal that you put for yourself, and it happened. And that's pretty rare sometimes in people's lives."
Around the horn
The Orioles still haven't gotten word on Daniel Cabrera's appeal of his six-game suspension, but the club expects him to make his next start Saturday. ... Trembley said injured pitcher Matt Albers' throwing program is progressing well. Former closer Chris Ray, who had ligament-reconstruction surgery in August, is throwing in simulated games and could be getting closer to taking the "next step," Trembley said. ... To make room on the 25- and 40-man rosters for last night's starter, Chris Waters, Brandon Fahey was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk and Jim Hoey was transferred to the 60-day disabled list. Adam Loewen was transferred to the 60-man disabled list to accommodate Montanez.