Adam Jones had a great time in New Orleans watching his favorite football team win the Super Bowl.
Eleven days from now, he’s scheduled to report to the spring training as the Orioles try to duplicate the Ravens’ accomplishment.
“Now it’s our turn @ Orioles #StayHungry,” tweeted Jones, who uses the handle @SimplyAJ10.
Just as the Ravens will have to hear about expectations when they try to repeat next season, the Orioles will hear plenty of talk in the next several weeks.
After Tuesday’s parade in Baltimore for the Ravens, the talk will slowly turn toward baseball, and a week after the celebration, pitchers and catchers begin their preparation for the season.
Jones is the Oriole with the biggest expectations. He begins the first year of his six-year contract after enjoying his first winning season by having a blast in the off-season.
For Jones, there were awards to accept, banquets to attend and vacations to take. Jones got to spend some time in San Diego, but visited Baltimore several times. He put an offer down on a new house in Baltimore County, and was the most visible celebrity spectator for the Ravens’ postseason run.
Last season, Jones played in every game for the first time in his career. Manager Buck Showalter vowed to not let Jones’ streak grow too long, and said he’d probably break it this season.
He had career highs in home runs (32) and doubles (39) and fell one short of best RBI season with 82. His .287 batting average was his best, but he knows there’s one thing to work on—his on-base percentage.
Last year, Jones struck about four times more often than he walked, something that’s been fairly common in his career. The Orioles will make cutting down on strikeouts and taking more walks a point of emphasis.
Jones would like to steal more bases. Last year, he swiped a career high 16, but was rubbed out seven times. With Nate McLouth and perhaps Alexi Casilla in the lineup, the team should be faster, though stolen bases are one of Showalter’s least favorite weapons.
With his new contract came celebrity, something Jones likes to encourage, but occasionally shies away from. With his active Twitter account, Jones likes to engage with Orioles fans, and is very approachable when out in public, but said as the team became more popular, he needed some space.
That’s why Jones will live away from downtown Baltimore now, to have some room, but if you’re out and about, you’ll still likely see him.
Jones will still have Nick Markakis, Matt Wieters, J.J. Hardy, Chris Davis and Manny Machado in the batting order, and they’re happy to have him, both in the order and in the clubhouse to deflect attention.
It’s going to be hard for the Orioles to duplicate or exceed last season. There were plenty of reminders at Sunday night’s Super Bowl of baseball: the loud “O” that echoed through the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and the sounds of “I’m Glad You Came,” that echoed through the stadium.
Jones was the star of the video based on the song last season, in which he slams a shaving cream pie in the face of a team employee. “That’s because I’m the coolest Oriole,” he likes to say.
The Orioles will need Jones to excel if they plan on being any kind of a factor in the American League East. There’s been so much talk about the team playing with basically the same squad that ended last season, and that chatter will be the secondary theme in spring training.
After a few weeks in Sarasota, Fla., Jones will go off to Arizona to play on the U.S. team in the World Baseball Classic. When he returns, the regular season will be about two weeks away, and so will the spotlight. He will relish it.