SARASOTA, Fla.-- Orioles centerfielder Adam Jones went 0-for-3 with a run scored in Friday's 6-5 win over the Pirates, which marked his final game before the World Baseball Classic.
"I'm going to miss these guys here, but they understand the opportunity that I have and I'm pumped to be able to play for Team USA," said Jones, who wore a bright yellow "Hulkamania" T-shirt in the Orioles clubhouse as he held court about his decision to leave Spring Training.
"On paper, it's a good team. You've just got to go out there and play together. We're going to have a workout on Monday and we're going to greet each other and shake each other's hands, and then get to work."
Jones said he placed more emphasis on lower-body work this winter than he normally would, and he played in four of the Orioles' spring games, going 1-for-11, to help him prepare for the Classic.
"I think the most important thing is to play 162 for Baltimore, but I made sure that I trained my legs for this WBC because I know the biggest concern is the health risks, the issues," Jones said. "Nobody wants to get hurt doing it because you're not playing for your team, you're playing for your country, but I think I'm in good enough shape to go out there and give it all I've got."
So is the goal for Jones -- named the team's Most Valuable Oriole last year -- to again play in every game?
"I'm going to break Cal [Ripken, Jr.'s] record," Jones joked. "I'm going after Cal. Cal is in my sights. Sixteen more years. But that's my goal. If I show up at the ballpark, I'd rather play than sit. I'd rather play than have a day off. That's just my mentality."
When told of his centerfielder's intent prior to Friday's game, Orioles manager Buck Showalter smiled and cautioned reporters that it might not happen.
"No, he won't play 162," Showalter said. "But don't hold me to it. I kept trying to get him out of there last year. ... You ask yourself about contractual obligations, I got asked a question, 'Can you trust him with this?' It was a short answer. It's fun to watch him turn into the guy he is."
Showalter will definitely back off Jones for a few days when he does return, which depends on how long Team USA goes in the tournament. Team Japan has won the two prior Classics and Jones, who won't play in Saturday's road game, will fly to Arizona on Sunday to meet his new teammates.
The Orioles will also lose reliever Pedro Strop (Dominican Republic) and Chris Robinson (Canada) in the next few days, and the debate rages on as to whether the Classic would be better served at another time of the year, rather than disrupting Major League camps.
"The only better time would be the summer, and by doing that, you're hindering a lot of teams that have players going, especially here in the States," Jones said. "I'm sure the Japanese teams and Korean teams probably don't care, but here in the States, it's a little different. I don't think our owners, by paying us all the money they're paying us, I don't think that they would be like, 'Mid-season? Just leave and go play for Team USA.' That's why they have the collegiate guys doing it and the Triple-A guys going. They're not going to sacrifice their players during the middle of the season. And then after the season, the players will be ready to leave, ready to shut it down.
"There's no real good time to do it. I think right now is the best time and Team USA is prepared because we've used Spring Training to get prepared. I think guys are prepared and we're going to have fun."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less