The Baltimore Orioles will be in Phoenix this evening opening up a three-game set with the Arizona Diamondbacks. And patrolling right field for Arizona is a familiar face: Adam Jones. I don’t need to tell you about Jones, as he was the face of the Orioles for ten years. Needless to say, he meant more to the Orioles and the city of Baltimore perhaps more than any player since Cal.
So it’ll certainly be odd to see him facing the Orioles tonight. However this happens all the time – it’s part of sports. What’s interesting to me is that there isn’t really much fanfare involved in the Birds facing their former star. Why is that?
First off this series is at Chase Field in Phoenix as opposed to Oriole Park at Camden Yards. When Manny Machado (who the Orioles will also see in San Diego as part of this trip) faced the Orioles last month, it was a much bigger deal because the games were in Baltimore. If these games were going to be in Baltimore, I think there would be a much bigger deal being made. Players changing teams after years and years of being with one team and then returning to their former home stadiums is a huge deal.
However it’s also worth mentioning that the Orioles team that heads into Chase Field tonight to face Jones and Arizona is vastly different from the Orioles teams of which Jones was a part. There’s no Machado, Markakis, Wieters, Hardy, etc. Now having said that, Chris Davis and Trey Mancini both played with Jones, so those are familiar faces.
However that aside, this is a totally different team than what Jones knew. It’s also a different coaching staff. One has to believe that regardless of the fact that he now plays for Arizona, it’s going to be strange for Jones to see the Oriole uniforms on the field, and then look in their dugout and not see the venerable figure of Buck Showalter pacing around. Things do change; that doesn’t mean it doesn’t look strange when they do.
I wrote last September about Jones and Showalter, as their time with the Orioles was wrapping up. That was a very reflective day for the Orioles (the last game of the 2018 season), as I chronicled here. And as I said in my game recap following that final game in 2018, it was a day that was tough for a lot of people – myself included. But in a beautiful way.
Before referencing it above, I went back and read the game recap from that final game, in which I described how Buck Showalter lifted Jones in the top of the ninth so the fans could pay homage. I also said that both Jones and Showalter were a part of the larger “Baltimore story.” And I stand by that. They’ll be a part of it forever.
But for the first part of this week, the O’s will have to face Jones as an opponent. He’s hitting .262 on the year, with 13 homers. Should be a fun series.