Adam Jones Unplugged

6 10 2010

I wasn’t expecting to talk with Adam Jones this week. Not that I had been expecting to speak with the 25-year-old Baltimore Orioles center fielder. Yet when a contact at Major League Baseball notified me he would be available for an interview this week to discuss the upcoming postseason, which begins tonight on TBS, I took advantage of the opportunity.

It struck me as odd at first that MLB would make Jones available to talk about the playoffs. After all, what would the third-year player who’s worn the uniform of the Seattle Mariners and Orioles know about playing in October? Then it started to make sense after I thought about it more.

Jones was an All-Star and Gold Glove winner in 2009. He’s just 25. And he plays for a team which hasn’t been the limelight much, meaning MLB feels one of its more exciting young players could use extra attention. I agree, and I think more should be done by MLB to market the Adam Joneses and Matt Kemps of the game.

What I didn’t expect from Jones was for him to be so forthcoming on a variety of topics, including why he hits CC Sabathia so well, what he thinks of Yankee Stadium and what the Orioles need to do this off-season to contend next year. Pieces of this interview are in today’s amNew York (link below), but here is the full interview:

Here is the link to the part of the interview that made it in amNew York:

Adam Jones interview

What are you up to now that the season is over?
Short-term, get the hell away from baseball. [Laughs]

Does your body feel run down?
Actually, no. It feels pretty good, you know what I mean? I’ve never had too many months there in Baltimore the first three years. I feel like I still want to play baseball.

Yeah, but you just need a break from it for a little while?
Definitely need a break. I’m gonna take two months off, just relax and travel. Then hit it hard right after that.

You guys played a lot better once Buck Showalter came aboard. What changed?
I think that the change was the accountability. I think everybody knew there wasn’t necessarily a sense of urgency [before], but you got to go out there and perform or you won’t have a chance to go out there. I think everybody got hold of that and just played overall team baseball.

 

Photo courtesy of Rich Pilling / MLB Photos

 

You struggled earlier in the year after playing well in ’09. What did Showalter say to you to help you improve?
He said nothing. By the time he came in, I had picked it up a little bit. The first two months — those were real fun. [Deadpans] It’s a six-month season. He came in there in August, I was swinging a lot better, so there’s no little thing [he said]. He just wanted me to take charge out there.

The AL East is considered the game’s best division. Is that overblown or is it true?
It’s every bit as good as what people say. It is a tough division. I’m not tired of people saying it. I’m in the division. If they said the NL Central, I might be like ‘No, this other division is good’ but the East is tough; always has been.

What are the Yankees’ chances of winning the Series?
Their chances are very good. It just all comes down to pitching. Right now, they got CC, Hughes has thrown a lot of innings, something he’s unaccustomed to. Pettitte has I think three starts since he came back from the groin injury. I’ve seen they’re not having A.J. Burnett [starting]. If they hit, they’ll be in it. And they should hit, as they always do.

You’ve hit better historically against CC than you have against Burnett. Why is that?
The first year when Burnett was in Toronto I think I got one or two hits off of him. The last two years I’ve hit him better. But the first year in Toronto I faced him a lot and didn’t fare too well off him. [Note: Jones went 1-for-8 with a home run.]

Not many hitters fare well of CC. Why can you hit him [.333 batting average in 27 career at-bats]?
He comes at me. I’m aggressive with him. I try to drive the ball to right-center field off him. Not try to pull him because he throws that change-up so much where it’s an easy kind of ball to hit to Jeter/A-Rod. It’s better to stay on that [pitch] as long as I can.

What’s it like navigating Yankee Stadium?
This prestige here is real low to me. The old place had everything. I miss that place. It’s the same outfield as it was there. One thing the walls in right and center field now — the see-through glass — I’ve run into that a couple times. [Laughs] It hurts. That fiber glass hurts. It doesn’t give — ever.

You got to remind yourself of that next year when you go back.
Nah, I’m probably gonna run into it again. [Laughs]

How about Target Field? What’s it like playing there?
That park is nice — really nice. It’s a big, easy outfield. It doesn’t have all the nooks and crannies that Texas has, or Tampa in right-center field. I think less. When you have those dimensions, you’re blindly running back, you don’t know where you are at all times.

The Orioles played there in early May. Was the weather chilly?
It was raining one of the days. It was in the 50s so it wasn’t that bad. I know right now it probably can get into the 40s, in a few weeks. If they advance on and on, it can easily get in the 30s. That doesn’t seem fun at all to me.

That’s one of the big topics in the MLB playoffs. Does playing in cold weather make a big difference?
Hell yeah. When it’s cold, that’s when pitchers throw inside more. That’s when you get jammed more. You see a lot of those hitters wear those thumb guards. It’s not fun. Baseball is a standstill sport. When you’re in center field and it’s 30 degrees, you’re not gonna be running like football players, back and forth. You just stand out there and when the ball is hit, you gotta go get it, not knowing that your legs probably won’t work the way you want them to work.

Yeah, I imagine it’s more comfortable to play indoors at The Trop [Tropicana Field].
Yeah, don’t play there for the atmosphere. The surface is not comfortable, at all. But the temperature combats it.

How is it taking a fly ball there? You’ve played at the Metrodome, too, right?
I think The Trop is worse than the Metrodome, actually. That ball is hard to see in The Trop. I just went up to the catwalk, the top catwalk, the last time I was there, about a week and a half ago. That roof is filthy. It’s dirty, I think they need to clean that. But it was tough to see in the Metrodome. The Metrodome was tougher in day games because the sun shines on it.

Going back to the Orioles, are you guys going to be in playoff contention next year?
I hope so. That’s the plan. I would love to. We got to play next year and see how all that plays out. We’re definitely headed in the right direction and got the guy, in our manager’s seat right now, who can lead us where we need to go. We just need the guys on the field doing it, believing that we can do it. Just taking no prisoners, basically.

Is there an area where you feel like your team needs to improve where you can contend for a playoff spot?
Uhh, everything. You can always use pitching. We need to add a hitter or two in that lineup. Everybody keeps saying the corner guys…and obviously guys who want to do it, who want to win. The common goal is wining, no excuses. I think we’ll be fine.

What area are you looking to improve the most?
My flexibility. I felt comfortable all year, but I just want to improve my flexibility. I’m not getting any younger. I’m still young, but I want to improve my body — improve my strength. Just my flexibility and my overall athleticism.

Are you going to watch the postseason?
If I’m in the house and it’s on, or if I’m out and it’s on, I’ll watch it. I’m not going to go out of my way to watch it. Because I want to get as far away from baseball as I can. But if I’m home, there’s usually nothing on TV, so I’ll check it out.

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