SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) — Adam Jones desperately wants the Baltimore Orioles to reach the postseason again. First, he has something bigger in mind.
Jones leaves the Orioles on Sunday to join the United States for the World Baseball Classic, where the Americans open Friday against Mexico in Phoenix.
“Get to play for your country. I’m going to miss these guys here, but they understand the opportunity that I have and I’m pumped to be able to play for Team USA,” Jones said.
Manager Buck Showalter played Jones in each of the first four Orioles’ home games this spring training, and the center fielder is 1 for 11.
“I’m just going to have to play a little bit longer instead of the five or six innings I normally play down here. Stretch them out to all nine,” he said. “I just trained my legs a little more.”
Jones played in each of the Orioles’ 162 games last year, only one as a designated hitter, as well as the six postseason games.
“I think the most important thing is to play 162 for Baltimore,” he said. “Nobody wants to get hurt doing it because you’re not playing for your team, you’re playing for your country, but I think I’m in good enough shape to go out there and give it all I’ve got.”
Jones has played in 165 consecutive regular-season games dating to the end of the 2011 season, and he wants to challenge Cal Ripken’s record of 2,632. Now 27, Jones would have to play every day into his 40s.
“I’m going to break Cal’s record. I’m going after Cal. Cal is in my sights. Sixteen more years,” Jones said jokingly. “But that’s my goal. If I show up at the ballpark, I’d rather play than sit. I’d rather play than have a day off. That’s just my mentality,” Jones said.
Showalter says Jones’ streak won’t even last through 2013.
“He won’t play 162,” Showalter said. “But don’t hold me to that. I kept trying to get him out of there last year.”
Jones was irritated the one time Showalter made him the DH, and says that should the manager try and rest him, he’ll challenge the ruling.
“We have days off. We have a few scheduled days off during the season, and I take those off and I don’t do anything,” he said. “If I come to the ballpark and I’m not injured, I pretty much want to play. And days I don’t see my name in the lineup, you can’t veto the manager, but I’d go in his office and say, `I want to play. I’d rather play than sit out.”‘
NOTES: Baltimore OF Nolan Reimold, who left Friday’s game with a sore right shoulder after hitting a home run in the second inning, said he feels all right and should play again in a few days. … Orioles RHP Pedro Strop (Dominican Republic) and minor league C Chris Robinson (Canada) also leave the team this weekend for the WBC.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)