Adam Jones continues to struggle to recovery from an injury in his right shoulder after making a diving catch in the outfield on June 15 versus the Philadelphia Phillies. Jones was out of the lineup once again on Tuesday night meaning that he has missed five of the last seven games and hasn’t been in the outfield since the incident. Jones missing playing time in any situation has to be of concern to Orioles fans. Jones has not missed more than three games in a season since 2011 and missed a total of five games from 2012 to 2014.
Jones was quoted as describing the injury process:
“I don’t think I’ll go on the DL,” Jones said. “I don’t like the DL. But can’t play, it’s uncomfortable.”
“I can hit, but throwing hurts,” Jones said. “I can move it. It’s just certain actions, lifting it. The throwing motion is not too comfortable.”
If it is indeed a shoulder bruise, these injuries have a tendency to vary significantly in terms of recovery time depending on the depth of the bruise. However, this injury even if approached via day-to-day approach has the tendency to greatly impact Jones and his contributions at the plate. The Hardball Times analyzed various shoulder injuries and showed a loss in ISO and OPS relating to loss in power and altering batting swing by the players. The sample size of the two games that Jones played versus the Blue Jays is limited. But, it would appears as if Jones didn’t have much of an issue with his swing due to him plating 2 RBIs in the ninth Inning on Friday’s game to cut the lead to 5-4.
However, if you watch that AB it’s not as impressive. The ball is a bloop single to opposite field on a ball thrown in the middle of the plate. The batted ball exit velocity was only 68 MPH and the entire sequence just seems awkward. The spray chart of his hits with the ball in the middle of the plate indicates a majority of hard hit balls (>90 MPH batted ball velocity). However, it also shows the ability to hit home runs, as you’d expect from Jones, when the ball is placed in the given zone. However, it’s just one AB in only 9 PA. It was only his hit, but he also contributed to the concern having three strikeouts to accompany his performance.
The Orioles will also be experiencing a roster crunch in the upcoming few days. The return of Miguel Gonzalez, Wei-Yin Chen, and potentially Jonathan Schoop will create the need to make space available. With eight players in the bullpen, it would make sense to option at least one or potentially two. However, the bench is the bigger issue with the Orioles currently hosting seven outfields and a DH (Jimmy Paredes). At least one of these players will need to be removed in the coming few days.
…Or the Orioles could get creative and place Jones on the Disabled List in order to continue to stretch out their options. By doing so and applying it retroactively, the Orioles would be available to get Jones back on July 6 for the Minnesota Twins series. However, the question has to be how long do the Orioles think they can survive without Jones in the lineup. Obviously, they felt as if they needed him in Toronto on Friday and Saturday and inserted him as DH. The Orioles haven’t struggled to score with Jones out of the lineup, but upcoming series against the Indians, Rangers, and White Sox promise to be more difficult for the Offense. The past three series have seen the Orioles face teams with team pitching at the bottom of the league:
- Phillies – 4.50 ERA (29th in MLB)
- Blue Jays – 4.28 ERA (26th in MLB)
- Red Sox – 4.48 (28th in MLB)
The upcoming series that Jones would have to be missed are a bit better, but certainly not great:
- Indians – 4.08 (22nd in MLB)
- Rangers – 3.93 (16th in MLB)
- White Sox – 4.15 (23rd in MLB)
If the Orioles have any concerns that this injury could linger, Jones should be placed on the Disabled List in order to allow him to heal properly and not lose further power production. Jones has shown a great improvement in plate discipline and contact rate to begin this season. Altering his approach at the plate to deal with his injury could be disastrous. In addition, the move allows the Orioles to continue to manipulate the roster and pushing off the deadline for trading/releasing one of the other platoon outfielders. However, Jones summed up the argument the best with the following quote and hopefully the Orioles take that in mind.
“I hope. I wanted to play out there today, but I wanted to listen to my body and not be stupid,” Jones said. “I’d rather miss some games in June and not let it affect my September.”