Different look for O's lineup
Roberts' game off has Jones leading off, Moore at second
ARLINGTON -- When Brian Roberts misses a game, the ripple effect can be felt throughout Baltimore's entire lineup. The Orioles gave their second baseman and leadoff hitter a game off in the first half of Thursday's doubleheader, opening up room for Scott Moore to be tested at a new position and for center fielder Adam Jones to bat at the top of the order.
Jones had previously batted eighth in all of his starts, but the Orioles like his speed in the leadoff slot.
"I batted him leadoff in Spring Training a couple of times," said Baltimore manager Dave Trembley. "I think it's a good opportunity for him. It gives me something to look back on later on in the season, because obviously Roberts isn't going to play 162 games. Obviously, there's going to be somebody else to lead off. I want to see how Jones handles it."
Jones, for his part, didn't seem to be intimidated by the perch atop the lineup. The 22-year-old acknowledged that his skills play well in other parts of the batting order but said he doesn't really care where he hits.
"I know all the reports say that in the future I might be a three or four hitter. But I don't really care about those things," he said. "The first at-bat is for the team, you try to see as many pitches as you can. But after that, I'm a regular hitter. ... I know I'm not the most patient hitter. The first at-bat, I'll try to work the count as much as possible."
Jones saw five pitches in his first at-bat before flying out to center field. Moore, meanwhile, was making his first big league start at a fairly foreign position. The former first-round pick was drafted as a shortstop but has primarily played the infield corners during his professional career, picking up second base this spring as a way to get in the lineup.
Moore said he has taken ground balls at second base whenever he's taken infield practice, but he also said he's not sure how he'll react to certain plays until he gets out there in a game situation.
"I can't say I'm worried, but I think the biggest change is definitely being on the opposite side of the double play," he said. "That's what I've concentrated on most -- turning the double plays and making sure I'm in the right spot on relays."
Juan Samuel, Baltimore's third-base coach and infield instructor, has been responsible for sheperding Moore through his transition to the keystone. Samuel, a former big league second baseman in his own right, said that Moore has worked hard and appears to be ready. But he also said that he hasn't had much of a chance to evaluate him at game speed.
"When he played in Spring Training, they didn't even hit a ground ball to him one game," said Samuel. "I was dying and thinking, 'Somebody come down hard on him on a double play. We have to see if he'll chicken out.'
"I was laughing and hoping for someone to hit the ball over there. We just don't know, but with the amount of work he's put in over there, he seems to be OK."
Trembley said that he saw enough of Moore in Spring Training to be comfortable with him in regular season games, and he also said that he told the reserve that he'd like for him to play three times on this road trip. Some of that playing time may come at third base or first base, depending on whether Trembley wants to rest Melvin Mora or Kevin Millar.
For now, the only thing keeping Moore from an everyday job is experience and veteran players wedged in front of him. Trembley isn't about to bench any of his regulars, but he will attempt to play his reserves as often as possible. And as far as Samuel is concerned, Moore just needs to get on the field and get innings under his belt to improve.
"I think he's going to do fine," he said. "I try to leave those guys alone unless they talk to me first. I think he'll have enough on his mind. The main thing for me is helping to position him and letting him know where he needs to be."
Jones, meanwhile, is still sorting out the intricacies of playing center field on a regular basis. Trembley said that outfield instructor John Shelby has been a big influence on the youngster and that the Orioles will be counting on further development in areas such as base-stealing and getting better leads as the season progresses.
"I love his makeup as a person first and as a player second," Trembley said. "I think he's willing to learn, he's appreciative of the opportunity that he has, he's a good student of the game, he has respect and he understands why he's here. I like those things about him. Then on the other hand from the standpoint of baseball, he's only going to get better.
"I think what you see now is really nowhere near where he's going to be in the future. He's going to get a whole lot better. He makes it look easy and he doesn't seem to get rattled when things don't go his way."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.