08/04/09 7:02 PM ET
Jones bats cleanup on Tuesday night
Trembley tinkers with lineup to maximize offense
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
"If the first pitch is there to drive, you see it," he said. "I'm hacking."
Jones, who has batted in the No. 2 slot for the Orioles during his breakout season, said that he couldn't remember hitting cleanup at any level of the game. And while he recognized that hitting fourth is different than his normal digs, he also said that it was more a function of the team's current hitting woes than anything else.
"I think he is moving us around a little," said Jones of manager Dave Trembley. "I don't think it's anything permanent. I think he's just trying to do something different, change up something and see if we can do something different."
Trembley confirmed that suspicion, saying that he was just using Jones to break up the left-handed tandem of Nick Markakis and Aubrey Huff. Markakis has hit in the cleanup slot a little bit in recent days, and Huff has dropped to No. 5 in order to alleviate his slump. Now, Jones will get a chance to see even more men on base.
"I think the good ones -- and I honestly believe Jones is a good one now and has a chance to be an even better one and perhaps a great one someday -- I think those guys thrive on the spotlight," said Trembley. "They like to be the guy when the game is on the line. I think we have seen that with Jones against the better pitchers in the big ballparks with the big crowds. They have a way of turning their game up. For me, that's how they grow."
And this has been a year of growth for Jones, who leads the team in home runs (18) and ranks second in both runs scored (69) and RBIs (62). Both Trembley and Jones said that Jones will eventually fit the profile as a run producer. Jones, for his part, said that he also likes to bat leadoff, but could see himself in the middle of the lineup.
"I like hitting [No. 2] because you get heaters," Jones said. "I just like to hit where I get as many runners on base, to tell you the truth. Three, there's a lot of guys on. Four, there's a lot of guys on. Five and six there's a lot of guys on."
"I think he is going to be a run producer and a run scorer," added Trembley. "He can knock in runs and I think he is going to be a guy that puts a little fear in that pitcher when he is up there and there are guys on bases. ... And I think the more guys we can put around him, in front of him and behind him, that can hit, will make him better."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.