Jones thinks return is getting closer

Injured center fielder's frustration level increasing

August 27, 2010|By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun

ANAHEIM, Calif. — — Orioles center fielder Adam Jones thinks he is getting closer to returning to the field, but as the days out of the starting lineup pile up, his frustration level increases.

"I am questioning my own personal self, asking if I'm a wimp. But I can't say I can play comfortably," said Jones, who was hit in the left shoulder with a Gavin Floyd pitch in the fourth inning Tuesday against the Chicago White Sox and hasn't played since.

"But the best part is we have people that are capable of playing. So we'll let them play and see if I can play [Saturday]," Jones said. "I hope I can play [Saturday]."

The Orioles didn't post Friday's starting lineup until Jones went out on the field and tested the injury — which is officially listed as a left shoulder contusion. He said he didn't have much problem throwing, but felt pain while swinging a bat and pumping his left arm while running.

"I tried my best, but it still hurts," Jones said. "Running is the most important thing."

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said the team is taking a cautious approach with its center fielder, though he'd be available in certain instances Friday if needed. Showalter, concerned about tipping his hand, wouldn't detail what those circumstances might be.

"I don't think it is in his best interest or our best interest to [start] again. But he's getting closer," Showalter said. "But you can tell it's bothering him, and if you know Adam, he's not a guy that lets you know every ounce of discomfort he is feeling."

Jones joked that he'd probably sit around and "eat ice cream all day."

"I want to play, I like being out there with my teammates," he said. "It [stinks] that I can't, but I know they all know I am trying to get on that field."

Lugo at third

Julio Lugo, who started his first game in left field for the Orioles a week ago, made his first start at third base Friday.

Showalter said he wanted to give a day off to rookie third baseman Josh Bell, who is 1-for-14 since his two-homer game last Saturday. And he also wants to get Lugo in the lineup.

"I think it's as much for Lugo as it is for Josh," Showalter said. "Get him out there some. Lugo may play all three games [in the Angels series]. Haven't made up my mind yet. I know he will play Sunday. I just don't want to leave him [on the bench] for long periods of time and then wonder why he can't be productive for us."

Lugo had made seven previous starts in his career at third base; his last on September 20, 2006 while with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He has played six innings at third this year for the Orioles in five different games.

"It's what's best for the team and also what's best for him, too," Showalter said. "As his career goes forward, I think he is going to be a guy people are going to want to play all over the place and kind of be a regular irregular. I'm not saying it won't be here, I'm just saying it also helps his career to be able to play all kinds of places, which he is athletic enough to do."

Showalter also said he'd be willing to throw starting shortstop Cesar Izturis at third base later this season if the need arose. Izturis has played third base in 47 games in his career, the last in 2008 for St. Louis.

Switching Pie and Patterson

With Jones unable to play, Showalter originally had Felix Pie in center and Corey Patterson in left, but decided to switch them. The reason, he said, was that Pie, who is the normal left fielder, has played center twice in a row and he didn't want him away from left too often.

Plus, similar to the Lugo maneuvering, he thinks it's good to mix up positions on occasion. In fact, Showalter said if Jones had been healthy for Friday, he may have put Pie in right field and had Nick Markakis at designated hitter.

"Over the course of a season, so many things happen where guys do have to move. You try not to have that," he said. "[But] as many opportunities as you have mentally to make those moves the better off you are."

Machado debuts

Manny Machado made his pro debut Friday for the Gulf Coast League Orioles. He was the designated hitter and batted third against the GCL Rays.

Machado, the organization's first-round pick and third overall selection in this year's draft, was hitless in three at-bats, including a strikeout, in the GCL Orioles' 1-0 victory. Connor Narron, a fifth-round pick this year, played shortstop and stole his first professional base in the GCL Orioles' game. Machado will be promoted to short-A Aberdeen, work out with the club Sunday and is scheduled to start Monday for the IronBirds.

Around the horn

Brian Roberts doubled to lead off Friday's game. It's the 10th time in 11 games that he has hit safely. He has six doubles in that span. … The Orioles moved Jason Berken (right shoulder) to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Jim Johnson on the 40-man roster. Reliever Armando Gabino was sent to Triple-A Norfolk after Thursday's game to create a 25-man roster spot for Johnson, who had been on the DL since May.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

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