08/29/12 12:05 AM ET
Jones finds power stroke with 100th homer
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
"I booked the flight back home," a smiling Jones said. "I'm on stand-by or something."
Tuesday's seventh-inning homer, which came off White Sox reliever Philip Humber, will go down as more than simply the solo shot that got Jones back on track. The full-count pitch which Jones sent screaming into the right-field stands marked his 100th homer and tied his career high of 25 in a season.
Asked if he thought the drought was wearing on Jones, manager Buck Showalter said: "He's impacted our club every day, no matter what he's done statistically. You always feel like with Jonesy that if he has struggles for a couple days, that somebody's going to pay. Somebody's going to pay."
Jones, who said he was unconcerned about his power outage given that the Orioles have continued to roll, smiled when he heard Showalter's words.
"I go out there looking to destroy any pitcher that's on the mound," Jones said. "[Either] you are successful, [or] you are not successful. But that's my mindset. I've had that same mindset the whole last month. It just hasn't been working. The execution, I've been unable to execute it. That's the way I play the game.
"You think I am going to stop playing the game because I am struggling? Nah. I'm going to go up there and hack just like I've been hacking because that's what's got me here and that's what's allowed me to stay in the Major Leagues."
Saunders, Britton to close out Chicago series
BALTIMORE -- Left-hander Joe Saunders joined the Orioles on Tuesday and will make his first start for Baltimore on Wednesday night against the Chicago White Sox.
"That was the plan all along," manager Buck Showalter said of Saunders, who was acquired on Sunday from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for reliever Matt Lindstrom. "[Saunders] got in last night sometime during the game, just wanted to give him a day to get kind of acclimated. Plus, I didn't want [Tuesday's starter Chris Tillman] to get too far behind. It fits good for him. I'm sure his pass list, he's already looking for tickets."
A Virginia native who grew up an Orioles fan, Saunders has gone 6-10 with a 4.22 ERA this season, and is excited to get started in a move he called "full circle" for his career. The 31-year-old Saunders cleared waivers last week and will add some stability to an Orioles rotation that has been in flux all season.
With Sunday's rainout pushing Tillman to Tuesday, Zach Britton, who last pitched on Friday, will start on Thursday with Miguel Gonzalez tentatively slated for Friday in New York."[That's] depending on whether we have to use him out of the 'pen the next couple days," Showalter said of Gonzalez, who hasn't pitched since Aug. 20. "Steve Johnson has had two days off now, he could fit into that possibility also. Like I said, we will see what the night brings and what our needs are and readjust after that."
Gonzalez is a 28-year-old rookie and the Orioles had originally pushed him and Wei-Yin Chen back to give the pair some extra rest. Chen pitched Monday, with Saunders' arrival bumping Gonzalez back further. Showalter said he wasn't worried about the long layoff adversely affecting Gonzalez, citing the right-hander's experience in the Mexican Winter League as helping him stay "pressurized" in a hostile environment like Yankee Stadium,
"I think the rest has done him some good," Showalter said. "We'll see. There's some thought about just get him in there. You've all seen late in the game we've had him get up and throw some."
Wilson Betemit said all went well in testing his right wrist with pregame batting practice Monday and the expectation is he will do the same Tuesday and head out to join Double-A Bowie for the next two nights. Betemit could be activated as early as Saturday.
Pitcher Jason Hammel is still on schedule to throw five innings in his first, and perhaps only, rehab outing for high Class A Frederick on Saturday. Hammel, rehabbing from right knee surgery, will rejoin the Orioles to throw a bullpen in Toronto after that and could make his first start on Sept. 6.
Designated hitter Jim Thome (herniated disk in his neck) has had his symptoms subside and if he continues to progress, he will be cleared to swing a bat in the next two days. That's good news for Thome, who was debating getting a second epidural injection in the area. Top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy pitched 5 1/3 innings for Double-A Bowie on Tuesday night, allowing two earned runs on four hits and a career-high four walks. Bundy also struck out six in the 97-pitch outing, which marked his third start since being promoted.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.