Trembley moves Jones out of leadoff spot

Orioles manager bats center fielder 2nd in first game vs. Twins and 7th in second game

May 09, 2010|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

MINNEAPOLIS — — In his latest attempt to get Adam Jones out of his offensive tailspin, Orioles manager Dave Trembley removed him from the leadoff spot, batting him second in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader and seventh in the nightcap.

Jones, who has made 15 starts in the leadoff spot in place of the injured Brian Roberts, is just 12-for-64 (.188) with three walks and a .224 on-base percentage in those games. Overall, he is hitting .227 with three homers and seven RBIs after going 3-for-8 in the Orioles' doubleheader against the Minnesota Twins. Jones' infield single in the fourth inning of Game 1 ended an 0-for-14 skid.

"It's me. I'm the one that has to go up there and hit," said Jones, refusing to blame his struggles on where he has hit in the lineup. "No one is going to go up there and hit for me. I'm not really seeing good pitches to hit, but I'm still swinging at them. I'm getting myself out, really. It's been a lack of patience. I have to be more patient, take what they give me, and if they give me nothing, go to first base instead of trying to force the issue, which I feel I've been trying to do all year. I'm trying to pick up slack with Roberts not here instead of playing my role like everybody else."

Trembley had second baseman Julio Lugo bat leadoff in the first game Saturday, and the infielder went 3-for-5 with an RBI. He batted leadoff again in the second game of the doubleheader, going 1-for-4.

Going forward, Trembley said he'll use either Lugo, shortstop Cesar Izturis or outfielder Nolan Reimold in the top spot. He also said he contemplated installing Nick Markakis as the leadoff man but felt the right fielder was too valuable hitting in front of Miguel Tejada and Ty Wigginton.

"Jones [has] swung at a lot of bad pitches," Trembley said. "Lugo did a nice job the other day. [I've] got to try something. It's been very, very, very difficult trying to find someone to be a leadoff hitter."

Jones, meanwhile, said he has gone back to the basics in an effort to refine his swing, which he feels has abandoned him since spring training. Even though he had 18 innings ahead of him Saturday, Jones got to the park early to do some tee work.

"I'm not getting quick enough to the inside pitch, and I'm using too much body," Jones said. "I just need to start from square one. It's in my own head. It's like, 'OK, I'm not going to see any pitches to hit,' and then the first pitch is right there. Then there is something off the plate and I'm chasing it. I wouldn't say my confidence has taken a hit, it's just frustrating. I've been beating myself up a little bit more than I ever really have. That's not fair to myself or my teammates. I'm better than that."

Pressure on Reimold, too

Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail challenged the Orioles' hitters Thursday, telling The Baltimore Sun: "I would say there isn't a great deal of time left before they have to start doing more than what they're doing now. I'm not staying with them forever. It's not a suicide pact."

Trembley was much less direct Saturday, but he did single out the struggling Reimold.

"Reimold is a lot better than a .190 hitter, Luke Scott is better than a .187 hitter," Trembley said. "There's a lot of guys who are better than what they've shown so far. People are getting opportunities.

"We got to let Reimold go here. We got to let Reimold either hit his way out or continue to just go in the other direction. I'm going to play him. I'm going to try to play him as much as I can, see what he can do."

Reimold, who entered the game 3-for-16 in five games this month, went 1-for-3 with a walk in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader. He didn't play in the second game.

Bell heating up

After a slow start, Triple-A Norfolk third baseman Josh Bell is starting to show why he's considered the Orioles' top position prospect. Bell hit a game-ending homer Friday night in the Tides' 12-inning victory over Toledo.

It was his sixth homer of the season and the third straight game in which he hit a long ball. In his past 11 games heading into Saturday night, Bell was batting .300 with five homers and 11 RBIs. For the season, he's hitting .270 with six homers and 18 RBIs.

Around the horn

Saturday's doubleheader was the Orioles' first since Sept. 23, 2008, against Tampa Bay. They lost both games in that one. … Izturis tied a team season high with three runs scored in Game 1. … Scott started in left field in the nightcap, just his second start in the past six games. … Matt Wieters started as the designated hitter in the nightcap after catching Jeremy Guthrie in Game 1. … Trembley on Target Field: "My goodness, what a beautiful place." … Double-A Bowie reliever Wilfrido Perez was placed on the disabled list with shoulder soreness, and outfielder Jonathan Tucker was transferred to Bowie from Norfolk.

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