Adam Jones hit 32 homers and scored 103 runs for the Orioles during his finest regular season to date. Which is pretty hard to believe giving how badly he bombed during the ALDS.
Jones went 2-for-23 against the Yankees and led the world in ugly at-bats. To go along with his six strikeouts, he had three one-pitch at-bats and seven two-pitch at-bats (one of which resulted in a hit). Both of his hits were singles. He never worked a walk. In fact, he hasn’t walked since Sept. 21.
On defense, Jones also had a big miscue in Wednesday’s 12-inning loss, giving the Yankees their first run of the game in the third when he misjudged Derek Jeter’s fly to center. Jones took two steps in before beginning to drift back on a ball that went over his head.
Of course, Jones hardly deserves all of the blame for Baltimore’s troubles scoring. The lineup was full of guys with lousy averages: Manny Machado came in at .125, J.J. Hardy .136, Matt Wieters .150, Mark Reynolds .158 and Chris Davis .200. The fact that the team was without Nick Markakis, whose hand was broken by a CC Sabathia pitch, and Brian Roberts finally ended up doing some damage. Nolan Reimold and Wilson Betemit probably could have helped, too.
But Jones was one of the lineup’s two All-Stars. The guy who signed the six-year, $85.5 million contract back in May. He didn’t even need to carry the load for the team; the pitching did that while holding the Yankees to nine runs over the final four games. He just needed to play like he did in the regular season, and he couldn’t.
Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon hasn’t selected a fifth starter for his 2017 rotation yet, but told reporters that he could envision left-handers Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery sharing the spot throughout the year. Neither pitcher was stretched out to the full 200-inning threshold last year, Maddon added, and suggested that the two could alternate innings out of the rotation and bullpen as needed (via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat).
Anderson, 29, was acquired by the Cubs in January on a $3.5 million deal. He’s coming off a rough 2016, during which he underwent back surgery and missed all but 11 1/3 innings of his last season with the Dodgers. His last full, healthy year in the majors yielded a 3.69 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 5.8 SO/9 over 180 1/3 innings with Los Angeles in 2015.
Montgomery, meanwhile, is vying for a rotation spot after pitching almost exclusively from the bullpen during the second half of the Cubs’ 2016 run. The 27-year-old lefty put up a 2.82 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings for Chicago last year, returning in the postseason to post a 3.14 ERA during the Cubs’ championship finish.
Maddon also mentioned the possibility of throwing a sixth starter into the mix, which would help prevent his other starters from getting overworked too early in the year. Either way, Anderson and Montgomery are expected to get a lot of looks early in spring training as rotation spots are finalized in the weeks leading up to Opening Day.
Orioles’ center fielder Michael Bourn is expected to be sidelined for four weeks while he rehabs a broken ring finger on his right hand, according to reports from the Baltimore Sun’s Peter Schmuck. Bourn broke the finger while playing catch with a football after a spring training workout.
The veteran outfielder re-signed with the club earlier this week on a minor league deal and was prepared to compete for a bench role this season. He’s in line to receive a $2 million salary if he makes the major league roster and can make an additional $3.5 million in incentives based on a set number of plate appearances. Now, however, his chances of cracking the roster out of spring training look considerably diminished, as his current timetable gives him an approximate return date of March 25 if all goes well.
Bourn had an impressive, if short-lived run with the Orioles following his trade to Baltimore last August, batting .283/.358/.435 with two home runs and a .793 OPS in 55 PA. While still somewhat removed from the totals that brought him an All-Star nod with the Braves in 2012, his defensive chops should give the Orioles some depth in center once he’s healthy again.