Orioles ask Gold Glover Jones to play deeper in CF

All-Star emulates his game after Angels outfielder Torii Hunter, one of best defenders in the game

March 28, 2010|By Jeff Zrebiec | jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

DUNEDIN, FLA. — The Orioles have asked Gold Glove center fielder Adam Jones to consider playing a little deeper this season to cut down on the number of extra-base hits landing over his head.

"When a balls fall in, he feels bad about it," said Orioles first base and outfield coach John Shelby. "He feels like he should catch everything. We're going to work on going back, playing a little bit deeper. He's very confident going back and coming in."

In 2009, Jones became the first Orioles outfielder since Paul Blair in 1975 to win a Gold Glove, yet he was scrutinized for much of the season for how shallow he plays.

While the Orioles want Jones to be himself and to be comfortable, they feel it would be beneficial for the club for him to play a little deeper because much of their rotation, aside mainly from Brad Bergesen, are considered fly ball pitchers.

"It's not something that he really wants to do, but every now and then, when a ball falls in, it's probably in the back of his mind that maybe he should have played a little deeper," Shelby said. "He's learned the league. He's been in our division for two years and I think now he has a better idea of how to play the teams in our division. I think that's going to make him even better."

Jones, who emulated his style after Los Angeles Angels center fielder Torii Hunter, a nine-time Gold Glove winner who plays shallow, was noncommittal about his plans.

"I come in well, I throw well. I might step back a little bit, but I don't know," he said. "I tried it in [batting practice] but it feels weird being so far away from the infield. I don't think I am going to do it, but you never know."

Jones acknowledged that how deep he plays will depend on who is on the mound and obviously at the plate.

"You got to expect the power that we have in this division and balls have gotten over my head," Jones said. "I want to catch them all."

Andino it is

Barring a trade, Orioles manager Dave Trembley essentially confirmed that Robert Andino will be the team's utility infielder on Opening Day. The move certainly isn't a surprise, considering Andino played in 78 games for the Orioles last year, but there was some talk that Justin Turner could wrestle the utility job away from him this spring.

"What we need is we need somebody to cover at shortstop for [shortstop Cesar Izturis]," Trembley said. "I think that's the number one criteria for the utility spot, you need to make sure the guy can play shortstop for Izturis. Turner is not [a shortstop]. Turner is second base, third base. Shortstop is a stretch for Turner. I don't think you can ask guys that have never played a position to all of a sudden come up to the big leagues and make them play a position."

The Orioles don't have another experienced shortstop behind Izturis and Andino in big league camp.

Around the horn

Bullpen candidate Kam Mickolio, who hasn't pitched since last Thursday due to groin soreness, could return to game action within the next couple of days, but he's now facing an uphill battle to make the club Brian Roberts (herniated disk) was expected to play today, but he'll now play in back-to-back games Monday and Tuesday. He has only three at bats all strikeouts this spring, but team officials continue to say that he's likely for Opening Day. The Orioles acquired catcher Steven Lerud for a player to be named in a minor league trade with the Kansas City Royals. ... Closer Michael Gonzalez will pitch on back-to-back days this week.

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