New Diamondbacks outfielder Adam Jones thinks he can still play at a high level. The five-time All-Star had hit at least 25 home runs and driven in at least 80 runs from 2011-17 and had a more than formidable .281/.313/.419 slash line in 2018 on a Baltimore offense that did not score many runs at all.
But when the 2018 offseason rolled around, it was quiet, leaving dozens of established veterans like Jones looking for a landing spot. It wasn’t that the asking price was too high. According to the centerfielder, the phones were quiet for him.
“There was nothing,” Jones said. “I’m just glad Arizona stepped up to the plate and offered me something. It’s either play in the Major Leagues or be at home. At (33 years old), I feel like I have a lot left in the tank, and I want to play a few more years for sure at least. This is the step in the right direction towards doing that.”
Now, Jones can help provide depth to the outfield with Steven Souza Jr., David Peralta, Jarrod Dyson, Socrates Brito and Ketel Marte. He also can provide durability, something the center field position did not see consistently with A.J. Pollock in recent years. Since 2010, Jones has appeared in at least 137 games in a season.
“They never talk about the sixth tool, they talk about the five, but the sixth one is health,” Jones said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to where I’ve been healthy…I don’t want to jynx myself but I’ve been fortunate to be healthy and be in-play.”
Manager Torey Lovullo watched Jones play catch and take some batting practice on Monday after the deal was signed, and the impact was felt instantly.
“I felt his presence,” Lovullo said. “I felt like a really good player walked into our camp to make us better and that was a very good feeling for me. I’m sure that everybody felt that today when they saw him.”
Lovullo is plenty familiar with Jones when Lovullo was a part of the Red Sox and Jones was one of the best outfielders in the game with the Orioles, and the current Diamondbacks manager was not only shocked that Jones was still available in mid-March but also got rather descriptive with his past interactions with his new outfielder.
Torey Lovullo was amazed his new outfielder was still available at this point in spring training and painted a vivid picture of going up against Adam Jones in the AL East. pic.twitter.com/eXNZijGkaw
— Jordan Hamm (@JordyHamm) March 13, 2019
While there are multiple established position players on the roster, Jones feels he can provide guidance for younger players as well.
“You’ve got veteran presence here, so it’s not like I’m coming in and am a savior in any type of way,” Jones said. “I think I can help a lot of young guys, especially position players…with a mindset of positivity, perserverance, grind it out, we are all going to go through body aches, soreness, pains and all that sort of thing but posting, being on the top step for your teammate, all the little things.”
Jones knows Arizona well. His mother lives in Arizona and he’s been in the state this offseason to train with other unsigned players. His workouts included running up Camelback Mountain and using Grand Canyon University’s hitting facilities.
Jones’ mother may be the only person more excited about the signing than the outfielder, and she may have orchestrated the signing. I’ll let him explain:
— Jordan Hamm (@JordyHamm) March 12, 2019
Now, it’s time for Jones to make up for the time he has missed. While he has been working out on his own, and will formulate a plan with Lovullo to make sure he is ready to go when the season starts. Lovullo mentioned he felt confident Jones could be ready to play by Opening Day.
“I think the most important date is March 28th,” Jones said. “Hopefully I’m 100% to go by that time.”