SARASOTA, FLA — Adam Jones isn't supposed to be here yet, but he poked his head into manager Dave Trembley's office early Friday morning and asked if he could do the 9:15 stretch with the pitchers and catchers.
"I think he wants to assume a lot more leadership by example," Trembley said. "That's what we need."
Jones disagrees, but not in the way you might think. He wants to assume a lot more leadership, period.
That is not an easy thing for a young player, and the attempt does not come without some risk. Jones found that out last year, when he strutted into the spring clubhouse after exactly one season as a full-time major league player and ruffled a few orange-and-black feathers.
Give you an example: Jones arrived at his locker at Fort Lauderdale Stadium one morning and found teammate Rich Hill sitting nearby with his feet up, sipping coffee and doing a crossword puzzle. This was no great offense -- catcher Gregg Zaun even photocopied a daily crossword for his teammates -- but it rubbed Jones the wrong way and he didn't mince words.
"This ain't no freaking Starbucks," he said, more than loud enough for Hill to hear.
There were whispers among some teammates that he was out over his skis ... that he had not accomplished enough to assume that kind of role. There were more than whispers from a few coaches, who counseled him to ease up on his teammates after a couple of similar incidents. But Jones will not apologize for that particular outburst or his right to speak his mind.
"I'm vocal," he said. "I don't mind being in somebody's face. If it means kicking somebody in the butt, it has to be done. If somebody gets his feelings hurt, too bad."
Well, not just anybody. Jones admits he's not talking about any of the established players. He can count. He knows that he has been a full-time major leaguer for only the last two years.
"One thing, I don't ever want to step on a veteran's feet," he said. "I know not to overstep my boundaries. I'm not going to say anything to BRob [Brian Roberts]. I just want to be around guys like that. But I like to be vocal, and I'm looking forward to playing with Miguel Tejada, because I hear he's a vocal player."
Don't misunderstand. This is not because Jones thinks he has all the answers. He knows that his second year in an Orioles uniform was a study in contrasts.
He pumped up his power numbers early and made the All-Star team, but he also exposed some holes in his swing that veteran pitchers were happy to exploit and missed much of September with an ankle injury.
"I think he got out of his lane a little bit, because he wanted to do so well," Trembley said. "We had to remind him that the home runs are going to come. The power is going to come. I don't think Adam did anything that can be misrepresented as anything other than him trying too hard and that he cares."
To his credit, Jones is just as capable of taking a hard look at himself as he is of anyone else. He played in the All-Star Game and won a Gold Glove in 2009, but he showed up early for camp because he was far from satisfied with last season.
"I need to be here," he said, "because I didn't complete the full season. I think I still have a lot of room for improvement. I think there are a lot of things I do well, and a lot I don't know."
Maybe one of the things he doesn't do well is show that humble side, but don't hold your breath. Jones just shrugged when he was asked if he thinks he comes off as arrogant.
"I am not going to let anybody tell me I can't do something," he said, "but I'm confident, not cocky. That's just the way me and my brothers grew up playing." Just a few feet away, teammate Scott Moore looked up from what he was doing and shook his head.
"There's a fine line," Moore said. "He's not arrogant. He's good, and he knows it."
Listen to Peter Schmuck when he hosts "Sportsline" on WBAL (1090 AM) and check out "The Schmuck Stops Here" at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog.