Jones feels like a changed man
Outfielder banking on a breakthrough season with Orioles
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Adam Jones strode in confidently to Fort Lauderdale Stadium on Monday, reporting for work at the Orioles' Spring Training complex two days ahead of schedule. Jones looked noticeably stronger after a winter spent at Athletes' Performance Institute in Arizona, and he said he might be ready for a breakout season.
"I've got a year under my belt. Why not?" said the 23-year-old of his potential for a big step forward. "I can play at this level. I'm not intimidated and never have been. I can play at this level, so just come and do it."
Jones, who earned high marks for aptitude during his first season as an Oriole, is just beginning to reach his potential. Many analysts believe he will eventually hit for power, adding another element to his speed-fueled game. Jones has also shown plate discipline in the Minor Leagues, and he will seek to hone that aspect in the Majors.
With that in mind, Jones went off to boot camp this winter, heading off to Arizona to amp up his game. The center fielder went from 215 to 225 pounds, packing on more weight in an effort to maintain strength all season long. And it was good weight, muscle added from improved nutrition and massive amounts of conditioning work in Arizona.
"They worked my butt off," he said of API, where teammate Brian Roberts also does his offseason conditioning. "They worked me out real hard. It was all mobility stuff. We lifted weights, but the main bulk of it was mobility."
Jones even said that he feels faster and more agile, twin qualities that should only make him more effective at running the bases and tracking down long-range fly balls. Jones stole 10 bases last season and has never stolen more than 13 at any stop of the Minors, but his defensive work in center field was strong even as a rookie.
Now, with the extra muscle and extra perspective, he could be even more dangerous this season.
"There were some things I wanted to improve on and needed to improve on, and that's why I busted my tail this offseason," Jones said. "I won't go through the spurts where you get tired and stuff. I told myself I was working out for August. Some say September, but I said August, because that's the hottest month of the year.
"That's the month that kills people. I was just trying to build up my endurance and my strength."
Jones is one of the first starting position players to trickle into camp, along with designated hitter Luke Scott. Baltimore manager Dave Trembley greeted both on Monday and commented about Jones' eventual spot in the lineup.
"I see him as a guy who can probably go two ways," Trembley said, sharing a thought about his lineup way before he has to write one out. "Either hitting in the two-hole like I did some last year or we'll see after I talk to [hitting coach Terry Crowley] whether occasionally he's ready to hit in the middle of the lineup. We'll wait and see."
And that's just what Jones wants to do. The youngster was asked how Felix Pie might turn Baltimore's outfield into a dynamic defensive-oriented unit, and Jones just said that he's reserving judgment for now.
"Hopefully, everything turns out to be exciting," said Jones. "I don't know how the outfield is going to mesh together, but me and [Nick] Markakis played well together last year. You put Pie in, and I don't know how he's going to fit in."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.