O's Jones Named An All-star

Outfielder, Just 23, Will Be Team's Only Representative

July 06, 2009|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- When the Orioles acquired outfielder Adam Jones from the Seattle Mariners before last season, they felt that he had the potential to become a budding superstar. They just never expected it to happen this soon.

Jones' meteoric rise was recognized Sunday when he was the lone Oriole selected to be on the American League All-Star team. He got the nod over fellow Orioles outfielder Nick Markakis and closer George Sherrill, who made the squad last season.

"It's a cool honor to get to represent the Orioles and myself," said Jones, 23, who is the team's youngest All-Star since Mike Mussina was selected in 1992 as a 23-year-old, and the club's youngest position player since Cal Ripken Jr. was tabbed in 1983 at the age of 22. "I'm pretty thrilled about it. I didn't think I was going to go, but my mom always said she was praying for me and kept voting for me. I guess all her hard work paid off."

The 80th midsummer classic will be played July 14 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, and for the fourth straight season and the ninth time in the past 10 years, the Orioles will be represented by only one player.

"I'm a little disappointed. I was hoping for more than one, particularly since the rosters expanded, but I'm pleased for Adam. I think it's well deserved," said Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail, who acquired Jones, Sherrill, Chris Tillman, who will pitch in the Futures Game July 12 at Busch Stadium, and two other pitching prospects for ace Erik Bedard in February 2008.

"It's nice to have a young 20-something represent you at the All-Star Game," MacPhail said. He's probably a little further along than I expected. I think we expected that he would be an occasional All-Star when we traded for him. I don't know that we expected that it would be his second full season for us."

Jones, who was selected by AL and Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon, leads all Orioles regulars with a .308 average. His 12 homers put him second on the club behind Luke Scott's 16, and his 52 runs trail only Brian Roberts' 63. Jones is third on the club with 46 RBIs, behind only Aubrey Huff (55) and Nick Markakis (55).

Despite going homerless in 19 straight games and 29 of his past 30, Jones has steadied himself after hitting .229 in June, further proof of his growth since last year, when he hit .270 with nine homers and 57 RBIs in his first season as an everyday player.

"I think out of any outfielder in baseball, he deserves it with the strides that he has made," Markakis said. "It's been night and day. Last year, he had nine home runs and this year he already has 12, and is hitting .300 and driving in over 40 runs at the break. It's a no-brainer."

Said Orioles manager Dave Trembley: "I haven't been around a guy that has shown so much improvement from one year to the next. He's a legitimate middle-of-the-order guy now. His upside is going to come even quicker than we all thought."

In the days leading up to the announcement of the All-Star roster, several Orioles backed Jones, including Sherrill, who also had first-half credentials worthy of consideration. He has converted 18 of 21 save opportunities and compiled a 2.43 ERA in 34 appearances.

"I'm happy for Adam," Sherrill said. "Obviously, I'd want to go. It would have been nice for both of us to go especially with us going to Seattle [for the next series]. But I'm proud of him. He's had a good first half, and hopefully he can keep it going. He'll represent us well. I hope he goes and savors every minute because it's a lot of fun. ... I'm pretty sure that this is just the beginning. He definitely has five tools. I'd think that this is the first of many for him."

Jones, who accepted hugs and handshakes from teammates before Sunday's game, acknowledged that the trade to the Orioles has accelerated his career.

"Being over here in Baltimore is a dream come true," said Jones, who also wants to compete in the Home Run Derby during All-Star week. "I think it's the best thing that happened to me and my career. Coming to a franchise that was rebuilding, and getting an opportunity to play every single day, that's all I ask. Over in Seattle, I wanted to play every day. I loved their franchise, but it didn't work out there, so I'm glad that I'm here. I was telling George, 'Now, they have two All-Stars that they traded away.' "

MLB All-Star Game

July 14, 8 p.m.,

Busch Stadium, St. Louis TV: 45, 5

INSIDE

A look at the All-Star teams PG 5

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