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Showalter ecstatic about Jones' big hit

Texts exchanged after Team USA's dramatic win
Special to MLB.com

SARASOTA, Fla. -- One of Orioles center fielder Adam Jones' biggest fans is his manager, Buck Showalter, and it was no surprise that Showalter was glued to the action on Friday night when Jones delivered a game-winning hit for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.

Showalter watched Jones' big hit against Colombia on the way home from the Orioles' game against Boston in Fort Myers.

SARASOTA, Fla. -- One of Orioles center fielder Adam Jones' biggest fans is his manager, Buck Showalter, and it was no surprise that Showalter was glued to the action on Friday night when Jones delivered a game-winning hit for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.

Showalter watched Jones' big hit against Colombia on the way home from the Orioles' game against Boston in Fort Myers.

:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::

"I was able to pull up the replay of it. That was cool. I watched it about five, six times," Showalter said.

"It's just a great moment in his career. It means a lot to him. You can tell. He was adamant what an honor and how proud he was to get a chance to do this. Growing up, be picked as one of the best players in America and play center field for that team, it's special."

It's Jones' second time with Team USA. He also played in 2013.

Showalter and Jones exchanged postgame text messages. "How proud we were of him, how cool. He said it was a special moment," Showalter said.

"There was some pretty good pitching against him."

Jones and Team USA play the Dominican Republic at 6:30 p.m. ET Saturday. He'll get a chance to face his Orioles teammate, third baseman Manny Machado.

Orioles left-handed reliever Richard Bleier wanted to join Jones and Machado in the Classic but decided that though he wanted to play for Team Israel, trying to make the Orioles was much more important.

Team Israel plays Cuba in Tokyo at 10 p.m. ET Saturday in the first game of the second round.

"I decided that I wasn't going to because I think it would be better for me to pitch here ultimately," Bleier said.

Bleier declined an invitation to play for Team Israel in the first round, and after it won all three games, had to make a quick decision on whether to leave for Asia for the second round.

"I talked to my agent, my wife and the front office and management. On the Orioles side, they said, 'Do whatever you want.' I think it just came down to really short notice. It was Tuesday when they asked me, and I would have had to leave Thursday," Bleier said. "I decided I kind of didn't want to rush into things."

Bleier is enjoying watching Team Israel. "The team's really impressive. They beat the Netherlands. It really is kind of impressive so far," Bleier said.

It was a hard decision, Bleier admits. "I was definitely torn. I need to be here. Just seeing the games on TV, it would have been a lot of fun to be there and be a part of it.

One of the left-handers Bleier is competing against, Vidal Nuno, left on Sunday to pitch for Team Mexico.

The World Baseball Classic runs through March 22. In the U.S., games air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament is being distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for games at Marlins Park, Tokyo Dome, Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Mexico, Petco Park, as well as the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.

Rich Dubroff is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Orioles on Saturday.