SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) — For 10 seasons, Adam Jones has been the backbone of the Baltimore Orioles.
The 32-year-old center fielder has the fourth-most hits in team history, has made five All-Star teams and won four Gold Gloves.
Now in the final season of a six-year, $85.5 million contract, Jones wonders where his future lies.
“That’s up to the front office. Business is business,” Jones said.
In his decade with the Orioles, Jones has performed brilliantly — on and off the field. He has seven straight seasons with more than 25 home runs and had six seasons of more than 80 RBIs. He’s been the most visible and accessible player the team has and been extraordinarily active in community affairs.
While Baltimore has been in the postseason three times in Jones’ career, he’s yet to play in a World Series, and that bothers him.
With Jones, star shortstop Manny Machado and relievers Brad Brach and Zach Britton free agents after this season, he could go elsewhere.
“This is my career. This is not the fans’ career, so I’m going to make the best decision for myself and going forward,” Jones said, “I want to win. It’s not about money. It’s winning. I’ve got a bunch of friends with rings and I ain’t got no ring, so I want to play for something.”
When Jones came to the Orioles in February 2008 with Chris Tillman and others in a trade that sent Erik Bedard to Seattle, the team was still four years away from breaking a 14-year streak of losing seasons. After five non-losing seasons, Baltimore dropped 87 games a year ago.
Manager Buck Showalter addressed the team last week and ahead of his talk, warned that his message was: “This is not going to be a celebration of the 2017 season.”
Jones said he could take any criticism.
“I got rhino skin,” Jones said.
“This is professional baseball. It’s not a daycare. We’re here for one reason. (Showalter is) not my father, he’s not my uncle. He’s my manager. Simple as that,” he said.
“We’re a team. We’re here for one reason and one reason only. And if you’re not here for that, bye. That’s the message. Thick skin, that’s the rhetoric, but his message is he’s here to win. Pretty simple,” he said.
In 2012, Jones played in each of the team’s 162 games, and missed just three games in 2013 and 2014. In the last three years, he’s averaged 145 games, and it’s clear he needs more rest.
“If you control yourself and you play hard, play the game with respect, all that other stuff goes to the wayside,” Jones said. “The fans in Baltimore know I’m going to give everything I’ve got every day. It may not look pretty. Some days it will, but I’m going to give it all I’ve got. And I think that’s just what they’ve seen from be since I’ve been traded over here.”
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