Orioles' 2011 MVP Adam Jones says he can be better
SARASOTA, Fla. (AP)
Baltimore center fielder Adam Jones wants to get better.
He was voted the Orioles' most valuable player in 2011, but that's not good enough for the 26-year-old.
''I need to'' get better, Jones said. ''I don't have a choice. In baseball, you can't take steps back. I've worked my tail off this offseason. I've worked my tail off this spring.
''This year, I want to play 162. I want to be out there every day to maximize myself.''
Ever since Jones was acquired by the Orioles from Seattle in early 2008, the team has been hoping that he'd be a star. Each year, he's gotten better. An All-Star in 2009, Jones took a step forward in 2010 - especially after the August arrival of Buck Showalter as manager.
Last year, he set career highs in games played (151), home runs (25) and runs batted in (83). He's convinced he can do better.
''I'm a year older. All that stuff matters,'' Jones said. ''Each year you get better and better mentally. The physical stuff handles itself. I've just got to get better mentally and understand the game better - learn to take what they give me.''
Jones also set a high in stolen bases, a modest 12, but was thrown out just four times. He thinks he can hit for power and steal more.
''I need to run. I'm a center fielder, so I need to run. I need to maximize myself and get 20-20, 30-30. I need to run,'' Jones said.
Showalter has been a big booster of Jones, and admires his motivation.
''Adam has made a progressive jump each year - statistically. Sometimes you don't know if that's where it is or if he's thinking `isn't that good enough'? Adam doesn't think like that,'' Showalter said.
There are some things that he wants Jones to shoot for, Showalter said.
''I've got a little goal card where when the timing's right, I sit down with the guys and go over it with them and have them put it in the back of their locker,'' Showalter said. ''We know where we'd like him to be.
''He holds those same hopes. If guys do certain things individually, we'll get better. I think Adam knows that.''
Jones is even thinking about bunting more.
''If the situation calls for it, and they call for it. I think it's a great tool if you're struggling,'' Jones said. ''It can get you out of a funk. It's really when you're struggling, all you need is that hit to help you relax.
''That's when I use my speed. If they get in close, it's good to know that I can turn on the ball. It adds another dimension to the game so that they can't play me one position on defense. They have to be able to move around because I can.''
It's been difficult being a star player on a team that hasn't contended, and Jones is looking for the Orioles to surprise - particularly with their young pitchers having another year of experience.
''I'm impressed with the competitiveness of what they have to go through,'' Jones said. ''We all know that if you don't, Showalter is going to send your (butt) out. They all have a year with Showalter, so they know what to do.''
With two years to go until free agency, the Orioles haven't spoken seriously with Jones about a long-term contract. He filed for arbitration, but he and the club settled on a one-year, $6.15 million contract.
The night he signed, executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said that he would not engage in contract talks with Jones once spring training begin. Jones isn't miffed about the club's stance.
''Not at all. It's not my decision,'' Jones said. ''I never expressed anything. If they're coming, they're coming. If they're not, they're not.
''I'm fortunate enough to be in the situation where I've been. I'm happy about it. If they come, they come. If they don't, they don't. It's not my decision.''
Jones enjoys playing in Baltimore, and hasn't ruled out staying.
''If it presents itself. It hasn't presented itself. I can't say I want to do this in the future. I can't predict the future,'' Jones said.