There’s really only one subject that is necessary to discuss after the Orioles’ 8-3 loss to the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday.
Yes, Wei-Yin Chen had his worst start of the season. And UMBC product Zach Clark made his big league debut.
There’s also a legitimate chance that the Orioles will add another arm for the Los Angeles Angels series. It’s possible Clark could get sent back to Triple-A Norfolk since it is likely he is out as Saturday’s spot starter after throwing 36 pitches on Wednesday.
But the real story within Wednesday’s story is Adam Jones again dropping a ball in center field. By my count that is five misplays this year by Jones, a two-time Gold Glover.
Twice in the past week Jones has tracked a ball in the outfield and then dropped it. It happened on Thursday in Oakland, costing the Orioles two runs. He said the next day – last Friday – that, “I just know I have to get better. And I will. It is a long season. But it starts today.”
And on Friday he made a couple nice plays.
But Wednesday in Seattle it happened again in the second inning. He ran a long way to track down a fly at the wall, and as he got under it, the ball bounced off his glove moments before he slammed into the wall. Jesus Montero ended up with a triple and then scored two batters later.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter downplayed the miscue and gave his center fielder a vote of confidence.
“I don’t think much, twice, about it at all. It’s a tough play,” Showalter said. “Jonesy, sometimes you go through a period where guys are hitting balls just out of your reach and it’s frustrating for him because he tries to catch everything that stays in the park. We’re real happy with his play in center field.”
Jones was anything but happy. He is hard on himself and that showed when he slammed his bat into the dirt on a fly out in the fourth. And it showed after the game.
“I missed the ball. Doesn’t really matter if you misjudge it, you missed it. So, you make an excuse, no one wants to listen to it. I missed it and cost my team,” he said. “That inning turned out to be a pretty big inning. I need to clean my [stuff] up defensively. It’s … frustrating. It’s part of the game. It’s why we got tomorrow. And I’m going to come back tomorrow ready to go.”
He also blamed himself for missing a sinking liner by Kendrys Morales that eventually led to Seattle’s first run.
That one was different, though. It was a tough play; a lot of guys wouldn’t have gotten a glove on it. It was a single, period. But Jones took responsibility for that one, too.
“I think I should have every ball,” Jones said. “[Former Mariners minor league instructor] Mike Goff said a long time ago, ‘It hits the grass that’s your [butt].’ And it hit the grass.”
The bottom line is that Jones right now is not the same defender as we have seen in the past. Orioles outfield instructor Wayne Kirby thinks that the three weeks Jones spent away from spring training for the World Baseball Classic was detrimental because Jones wasn’t working on the technical things he usually does in March. And Kirby believes we’ll soon see the same Jones as before.
The Orioles need Jones to be a good – if not great – center fielder again. And he gets that.
“Just got to pretty much clean it up,” Jones said. “You can formulate it all you want to. You can say this, you can say that. Just got to get back on the field and get some reps and make the plays. Because those pitchers on the mound are fighting their tails off each and every day for us. And we’re a good defense. Being the center fielder, I need to play to a centerfielder standard.”