'Sweet' Spot: Jones Bats Fourth For First Time



Reliever Mickolio Optioned To Norfolk

No Progress With Second-round Draft Choice

August 05, 2009|By Dan Connolly | Dan Connolly,dan.connolly@baltsun.com

DETROIT - - For his first time as a baseball player, professional or otherwise, Adam Jones looked at the lineup card Tuesday and saw his name listed fourth.

"I said: 'Oh, sweet. Hitting fourth for the first time,' " Jones said.

Orioles manager Dave Trembley was hoping for a specific reaction.

"When he came in today and he saw his name in the fourth spot, I [wanted] him to say, 'Darn, I know I can do this.' " Trembley said. "But I want him to know that I know that."

Trembley said his main reason for the shake-up was to separate left-handed hitters Nick Markakis and Aubrey Huff against lefty Jarrod Washburn. Trembley has used seven cleanup hitters this season; he isn't sure how often he'll put Jones in the fourth spot.

The move also might be a way to jump-start Huff, the usual cleanup hitter, who was dropped to fifth. Heading into Tuesday, Huff was in a 19-for-97 slump (.196 average).

Jones finished the night 0-for-5 with a strikeout while Huff went 1-for-3 with two runs scored.

"When you think of four, you think of this big boy right here," Jones said before the game, pointing to Huff's locker. "I understand you move him to fifth, keep the pressure away from him. I don't think he ever felt it, but if it changes it up a little bit, I think that could be a good thing."

Jones, who has mostly batted second in 2009, now has hit in every lineup spot in the big leagues. He said he won't change his approach no matter where he bats.

"If the first pitch is there to drive, you see it, I'm hacking," Jones said.

Jones said he prefers batting second or third but said his game might be best served as a No. 5 hitter so he can drive in runs.

"Three or five," Trembley said about Jones' ultimate spot. "I think he is going to be a run producer and a run scorer. He can knock in runs, and I think he is going to be a guy that puts a little fear in that pitcher when he is up there and there are guys on base."

Two down, Berken stays

The Orioles sent two pitchers back to Triple-A on Tuesday, and only one was on the 25-man roster.

Reliever Kam Mickolio was optioned to Norfolk to make room for starting pitcher Brian Matusz. Also sent to Pawtucket, R.I., where the Tides are playing, was left-handed pitcher Chris Waters.

Waters traveled to Detroit on Monday in case Trembley needed an extra arm in his tired bullpen, but Chris Tillman's six-inning start Monday alleviated that concern. So Waters was sent back down without being activated.

That means Jason Berken is expected to make his scheduled start Friday against Toronto at Camden Yards.

"I'll tell you [today] what the rotation is," Trembley said. "I want to get through today."

Nothing new with Givens

Orioles director of amateur scouting Joe Jordan said he has made no progress in negotiations with second-round draft pick Mychal Givens (Tampa, Fla.) despite a face-to-face meeting this week with the high school shortstop's agent.

"There's just been no ground made up," said Jordan, who met with Givens' agent, Ken Felder, in Orlando. "It's disappointing to me how this has played out. We did our due diligence and the rules change after the draft. We're going to do what we can."

In other news, the Orioles have agreed to terms with left-hander Jarrett Martin (18th round) and outfielder Brenden Webb (30th round). Right-handed pitcher Ryan Berry (ninth round) is due in Baltimore next week to take a physical and finalize a deal and the club is making progress toward signing pitchers Randy Henry (fourth round) and Ashur Tolliver (fifth round), Jordan said.

Outfielder Devin Harris, an eighth-round pick out of East Carolina University, has informed the club that he'll remain in school and won't sign. The Orioles have until Aug. 17 to sign their draft picks or lose their rights.

Baez revisited

Reliever Danys Baez was tagged with Monday's loss when he served up a walk-off homer to Clete Thomas in the ninth inning.

But he struck out four of the six batters he faced before Thomas' homer and says he feels stronger than he has since before undergoing Tommy John ligament-reconstruction surgery in 2007.

"I think it was better last night than ever," said Baez, who has allowed one run or fewer in 25 of his 31 appearances.

Baltimore Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.

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