Center fielder Adam Jones would have settled for just taking the next step in his development as a star-quality player, but he didn't complain when local media picked him out of a surprisingly large field to be this year's Most Valuable Oriole.
"It's a tremendous honor," Jones said Wednesday. "We've played a long season, and there are a lot of guys — J.J. Hardy had a hell of a year, [Matt] Wieters had a great year, Jim Johnson has had one hell of a year — there were some quality guys."
Jones finished the regular season batting .280 with a career-high 25 home runs and 83 RBIs, and his 16 outfield assists led all American League center fielders, but manager Buck Showalter said Jones' contributions this season went way beyond the numbers.
"Adam will tell you, you could make a case for a lot of guys," Showalter said, "but Adam had a great year. He was a Gold Glover in center field. He's had a great effort year. Nobody in the major leagues has played harder from the first day of spring training to the end of the season. I'm very proud of him for that."
Jones, who won a close vote over Hardy, made significant progress at the plate in 2011 after his numbers were flat from 2009 to 2010. He came to Baltimore in the Erik Bedard deal with a ton of untapped potential and appears to be growing into the superstar everyone thought he might become. He also set career highs in games played (151) and doubles (26).
"I'm excited I'm getting better and better," he said. "That's what I set out to do last offseason — have a better season than the one before — and this offseason is going to be the same."
Luke Scott said this week that his rehabilitation from shoulder surgery has gone very well and he is on schedule to be ready for spring training next year. It remains to be seen whether that will be with the Orioles, who could nontender him to avoid arbitration, but he said he thinks he'll come back strong after completing his rehab program.
He appeared in only 64 games and batted .220 in 2011 but thinks his labrum injury affected his performance at the plate.
"If it was just a little damage [to his shoulder], I might wonder," Scott said, "but it was a big deal. They had to put in seven anchors. Dr. [James] Andrews said I should have a full recovery."
If Scott stays on course, he'll be cleared to begin light baseball activities Nov. 14.
Angle's new angle
Showalter said Wednesday that outfielder Matt Angle will go to the instructional league to work at second base, a clear indication that the team likes what he brings to the plate but doesn't have him high enough on the outfield depth chart to project him as a regular left fielder.
Johnson still could start
Though Jim Johnson has clearly established himself as the Orioles' most dependable late-inning reliever, Showalter is not ready to say he has abandoned the possibility of converting the right-hander into a starter next spring.
"That's dependent on what we are able to do or not do in the offseason," Showalter said.Presumably, the Orioles will attempt to upgrade the rotation over the winter, but — failing that — could look for another dependable closer and move Johnson into the rotation.
"I feel that's something he can do either way," Showalter said.
Around the horn
The Orioles and Red Sox drew an announced 29,749 to Camden Yards on Wednesday, which brought the Orioles' season total to 1,755,461 over 80 dates. That eclipses last year's total -- also for 80 dates -- of 1,733,019, the lowest attendance total in the history of Oriole Park. … Former Montreal Expos and San Francisco Giants manager Felipe Alou was at Camden Yards on Wednesday night to honor Vladimir Guerrero two nights after the designated hitter set the all-time record for hits by a Dominican-born major league player. … Infielder Chris Davis will have hernia surgery soon. Showalter said his situation is "similar but not the same" as Ryan Adams, who will have a sports hernia repaired next week.
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