Maybe you marveled at the throw that nabbed Jose Reyes on Friday night. How about the one last week that Matt Wieters caught on a fly?
It’s not your imagination. Adam Jones has become a better thrower.
Manager Buck Showalter thinks Jones has become a more accurate thrower, thanks to working with first base coach Wayne Kirby.
Early in the season, Jones was heavily criticized for inaccurate throws and dropped balls. That criticism has disappeared.
“Certainly a lot of improvements have come from earlier in the year, rushing throws. You’ve got to get to the basics. It’s always the basics because that’s the foundation of what we’ve been able to do,” Jones said.
Kirby said that because of the World Baseball Classic, Jones missed three weeks of fundamentals during spring training, and it took him time during the season to make up for lost time.
Now, Jones is in contention for this third Gold Glove. He won in 2009 and 2012. He could be joined by J.J. Hardy, who one last year, Manny Machado in his first full year, and perhaps Matt Wieters. Nick Markakis won a Gold Glove in 2011.
“If my footwork is good, then the throws have a better chance, then my throws have a better chance of being more accurate. If in my footwork, I try and rush myself, you see the ball go up the third base line,” Jones said.
“If I take my time, it’s cool having guys with really good hands. Throw the ball to second base to J.J. We’re really good as a team taking relays, throwing the ball to Machado, great hands, great extension. Wieters absolutely has middle infielder’s type hands. I think the comfort level, Wieters just tells me, ‘hey man, get it to me as fast as you can.’”
I’ve always prided myself on my arm. I’m one of the center fielders that can throw, and I take pride in that because defense is a huge part.”
He’s heard all the chatter. Jones plays too deep, too shallow, he blows bubbles when he should be concentrating on catching the ball.
“If you do anything make a mistake and do anything, they’re going to blame that reason, blowing bubbles, that’s the reason those balls aren’t caught. If I miss the ball, I miss the ball,” Jones said.
He’s made two errors, dropping a ball for a three-base error that cost the Orioles a game in April, a muff that occurred Kirby said because Jones was breaking in a new glove. His second one was on a throw on May 18. None since.
“You’ve got to get back to the basics because our team defense is a big part of our game,” Jones said.
Besides his fielding Jones has recently bunted for a hit and stolen an occasional base, things he takes pride in.
“I’m a middle of the order hitter, but I also have front of the lineup speed in terms of, I’m not a big stolen base guy, but I can steal a base. I can bunt, I can create different things on the field,” Jones said.
“Speed never goes into a slump.”