After May 4th, the Orioles are sitting pretty. At least, in the eyes of those who thought they’d be occupying the basement of the AL East at this point, O’s success is surprising. For the fan base, however, this was all part of the plan.
But all has not been great in Birdland. After a hot 7-0 start, the Orioles have posted a mediocre record of just 8-11. While that is not a first place performance, they have utilized an 8-5 record against American League East teams to keep themselves atop the division. However, as we have seen in years past, a successful baseball team needs to avoid long losing streaks and beat the teams they’re supposed to beat. Winning in this league is difficult and it’s come to be known that making it easier for the other team is not the way to make a charge to the postseason.
What’s Wrong With Adam Jones?
Last year in the month of April, Adam Jones posted a .400 batting average, hit 5 home runs, drove in 19 RBIs and struck out only 10 times, all in 75 plate appearances. Home crowds chanted M-V-P during his every at-bat, ESPN threw his name in with their list of the best players in the league, and chatter surrounded the club that Jones had finally secured his place in team history as one of the best leaders on and off the field. However, just a year later, AJ’s April statistics were quite a different story. The O’s centerfielder, reaching the plate 67 times, batted just .244, had one homerun and only seven RBIs, and struck out 15 times.
There has been (unwarranted) outcry from some of the fan base. And while the frustration has been understandable, the chances that Jones has “lost a step” are not great. Instead, it’s possible that Adam is playing hurt and trying to do too much. He missed several games in the beginning of the season after seemingly hurting himself swinging at a pitch. Buck Showalter used Jones as a defensive replacement in a couple of those games, but only in situations where he would not have to come to the plate. Could Jones’ lack of production come from playing while hurt? It’s certainly possible. Whether Showalter feels his lack of production deserves some time out of the lineup or not is to be seen, but don’t count on it.
J.J. Hardy Is Hurt (again), Flash Fills In
The report is that J.J. Hardy will be out 6-8 weeks after fouling off a pitch into his left foot, resulting in a hairline fracture. The O’s have had experience with Hardy out of the lineup, and, as usual, Ryan Flaherty will be asked to step up and see more playing time. Flaherty is a commodity off the bench that Showalter likes to have around because he can play any position when needed. Already, Flash has seen playing time this season at third base and left field, but his versatility allows Baltimore to put him anywhere and even list him as the 3rd string catcher in some situations.
There has also been word that Paul Janish, the shortstop currently in Triple-A Norfolk, will be called up as early as Saturday. The move will give the Orioles a four-man bench but will force them to lose an extra arm in the bullpen. Janish is on paternity leave until Saturday, hence the team waiting to make the move.