A couple of former Mariners are adapting to roles in two of the highest-pressure spots on their new team. Relief pitcher George Sherrill...
BALTIMORE — A couple of former Mariners are adapting to roles in two of the highest-pressure spots on their new team.
Relief pitcher George Sherrill says his new job as the Baltimore Orioles’ closer is really no different from what he used to do occasionally in Seattle. But for center fielder Adam Jones, centerpiece of the Erik Bedard trade, life as a starting center fielder and as the supposed future of the Baltimore franchise is a new world entirely from what he was used to as a Mariners minor-leaguer.
Jones said his manager, Dave Tremblay, told him right away to avoid carrying the weight of the team on his shoulders.
“He just wanted me to play my game, play hard,” Jones said in the hours before the Orioles handed Seattle a 7-4 loss on Friday night. “That’s what he wanted me to do. Don’t go out there and try to do too much. Don’t try to hit a grand slam with nobody on base. Just play your game, try to get on base and show what kind of player you are.”
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Jones did what he had to do on Friday, getting a ground out to the right side that advanced two runners and led to a second-inning Baltimore run. He then lined a double to left field in the fourth inning, advancing the lead runner to third and allowing him to score on a sacrifice fly.
The crowd at Camden Yards gave Jones, who entered the game hitting .286, a nice round of applause every time he stepped to the plate.
“The team, the fans and the city have all welcomed me with open arms,” said Jones.
Jones is still mystified about the degenerative hip rumor that started during the Bedard trade saga in late January. He said the hip was the main reason he was forced to fly to Baltimore for his physical the day of the Super Bowl — something he’s still miffed about.
“My hip is fine and never hurts me,” he said. “Every once in a while, I might jam it, just like any other player. I had to come out here during the Super Bowl, when I had tickets to the game, for five hours to meet three doctors just for that same [hip] reason and they said nothing was wrong.”
Sherrill, who earned his second save in as many tries against his former team on Friday, had accompanied Jones on that trip to Baltimore and also took his pretrade physical. After a minor hamstring injury early in spring training, he did fine the rest of the preseason and put an early lock on the closer’s job.
“You’re just throwing last instead of next-to-last,” said Sherrill, who had notched his first save of the year on Wednesday night, walking two and fanning two in an inning of shutout work. “There really is no difference. If you try to make too much out of it, it really is going to be too much.”
Sherrill semi-seriously said he was glad that his shaky first save opportunity came in front of a home crowd of only 10,000 or so. He was looking forward to getting his first save against Seattle out of the way so everybody will stop asking him about it.
“I’d rather go out and throw against them tonight just to get it over with,” he said.
That he did, retiring Jose Vidro on a pop out to first and Kenji Johjima on a fly out to left in the ninth, after coming in with a runner on second, to preserve his team’s second victory of the season.
• A hefty Baltimore media contingent greeted a pair of Mariners as the team arrived at the ballpark on Friday afternoon. Erik Bedard had numerous cameras, notepads and microphones positioned near his locker, but he waved them away and spoke at length only with a Baltimore Sun beat writer — in a casual, off-the-record conversation.
Meanwhile, third-base coach Sam Perlozzo held court out in the dugout, where the media throng peppered him with questions about his first trip back to Baltimore since being fired last season as O’s manager. The longtime coach spent 12 years with the O’s before being fired halfway through a three-year managerial deal — a time Perlozzo admits was tough on him personally and professionally.
“I’m not going to let my last four weeks out of 12 years take precedence over a lot of good things that went on here,” he said. “I had some great times here, did some great work. I look at it as a good 12 years.”
• Mike Morse finally got his first at-bat of the season in the ninth inning on Friday, having to wait nearly four full games despite a scintillating spring that saw him bat .500. He wound up doubling into the right-field corner.
Morse was supposed to start in right field against Orioles lefty Adam Loewen on Friday night, but that got pushed back a day when a Baltimore rainout Thursday altered the starting dates of their pitchers.
Loewen instead is due to pitch tonight, with Morse getting a start. Morse said he’s done all he can to stay loose, including early hitting and fielding and playing both the infield and outfield to catch balls off bats during batting practice.
“It’s not too tough,” he said. “It’s as tough as you make it.”
Brad Wilkerson went 0 for 1 with two walks on Friday, lowering his batting average to .083.
But Mariners manager John McLaren said he doesn’t feel eager to get Morse into the lineup to take advantage of his hot spring.
• Brandon Morrow tossed a scoreless inning for Class AA West Tennessee on Thursday night. McLaren said he was pleased with the reports he got on Morrow, who is on a throwing program.
“He pitched pretty well last night, from what I understand,” McLaren said. “Hit 96 on the radar gun.”
McLaren couldn’t say whether Morrow would be called up as soon as he’s eligible again next Friday. But McLaren said it will be tempting if he keeps hearing of Morrow throwing in the mid-90s.
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For the record
vs. AL West: 2-1
vs. L.A.: 0-0
vs. Oakland: 0-0
vs. Texas: 2-1
vs. AL East: 0-1
vs. AL Central: 0-0
vs. NL: 0-0
vs. LHP: 0-0
vs. RHP: 2-2
Extra innings: 0-0