In a recent sit-down with MLB.com at Yankee Stadium, Orioles center fielder Adam Jones answered a wide range of topics from his impending free agency to his love for Baltimore.MLB.com: You have been with the Orioles for over a decade. What is your favorite moment in an O's uniform?Jones: I
In a recent sit-down with MLB.com at Yankee Stadium, Orioles center fielder Adam Jones answered a wide range of topics from his impending free agency to his love for Baltimore.
MLB.com: You have been with the Orioles for over a decade. What is your favorite moment in an O's uniform?
Jones: I think it's each Opening Day. It's a new opportunity to do something great, have a great season. It humbling as hell that I'm still able to perform at this level and make the team. … Each day I wake up and I'm a Major League player. I walk in a Major League clubhouse. That's probably the best moment.
MLB.com: You sound like you are still a kid. True?
Jones: I am still a kid. I enjoy this game. It's frustrating as hell. You want to succeed. But the sheer enjoyment, the sheer opportunity to play a game is remarkable. I get it that we get the outside noise. We get paid. There is a lot of frustration and all that stuff. But at the end of the day, all the players in the Major Leagues are big old kids. … They don't say baseball's a job. It's a baseball game. That's how we feel and I feel that way. That's why I go out there and play with a smile.
MLB.com: You come from the West Coast. Did you ever think you would have success on the East Coast?
Jones: When it came to baseball, I didn't care where I played. Fans will say, "You play for the Orioles." I'm sitting here thinking to myself, "I'm in the Major Leagues." It doesn't matter who you play for, you have an opportunity to do something special. I'm just grateful for the opportunity.
MLB.com: You are a free agent after this season. Do you see yourself in an Orioles uniform for at least five more years?
Jones: That's a great question. What I see is … in this game, it's a business. So you can't get too high, too low, too emotional, too emotionally attached to anything, because the second you do, you could be somewhere else. With that, I just can control what I can control. And the only thing I can control is playing baseball and playing it well. Besides that, my agent and the front office -- that's their job. My job is to go out there and make a case for myself between the lines. I can't make a case for myself verbally. If the front office sees that they want me to stay here, that is up to them. I've never seen a player go to the ownership and say, "Give me some more money."
MLB.com: What will it take to stay with the Orioles?
Jones: It's the opportunity to win. The Orioles did a good job by signing Andrew Cashner and Alex Cobb to three- and four-year deals. That showed that we are going to make a commitment to pitching. Right there, that is great. You have Chris Davis who is going to be here. You have Jonathan Schoop, who has one more year [before he becomes a free agent]. Manny Machado is a pending free agent. You have to tip your cap to him and respect his decision in whatever he has to do. You just have to ride the wave and do what's best for me and my family. The thing is, we live on the West Coast. I'm not hinting [at wanting to play] on the West Coast. We live on the West Coast. It's not like I have to stay on the East Coast.
MLB.com: There is a possibility you could be traded mid-season.
Jones: Well, I have to waive my no-trade [clause] for that to even happen. That's the conversation I have to have with my wife, because it's not just about me anymore. It has to be a family decision and a business decision. If that arises, I would have to talk to my wife and see her feelings and emotions on it.
MLB.com: I hear your wife, Audie, plays a big role in your life. Please talk about her.
Jones: She is the mother of my kids. She is that matriarch of my house. She controls the house. She makes the schedules. That's what people aspire to have as a partner. I know that I'm gone a lot. She picks up the slack when I'm not there. It's great to have a partner like that. She pushes me every single day to be better. She will give me nice little tidbits. She will say, "Let the game come to you." Just the smallest things that you don't want to hear. When your wife tells you, you tend to listen. She is just my support system -- day in and day out. That's one person I can count on on a daily basis to give me the emotional support that you need after a tough game. My wife is always there to pick me up.
MLB.com: Buck Showalter has been your manager since 2010. Do you see playing for anybody else?
Jones: When you play for managers for a long period of time, you are like, "Wow, will this ever end?" The reality is, we have expiring contracts. … Obviously, his mind is a brilliant [one] in the game of baseball. So obviously, the front office is something I know he can easily adapt to. But I still see him managing because I know he still loves the fight. Until he gets sick of the travel, I think he will still manage.
MLB.com: What does he mean to you?
Jones: Stability. A lot of players in their careers don't get stability. I've been able to have the stability, and that, to me, that has been great, because as a kid, I moved around every couple of years. As an adult, it has been good to be in one spot. I can say, "Cool, I can make this home. I can make this comfortable."
MLB.com: The one thing I noticed about you is how calm you are when something goes wrong from a racial standpoint. You are taking a page from Martin Luther King. How are you able to stay calm?
Jones: If I scream and holler, no one is going to listen. You have to have a solid approach. You can't come in and [holler]. That's not how you get things done. What I've tried to do is spark the conversation. You don't have to agree. … When you disagree with somebody, it's like "I hate you" now. That's what our society has turned into as opposed to "let's have a conversation." I don't like this, you don't like that. OK, but can we have a conversation and try to make it better for both? But in today's society, it's this or that, and that sucks. But I'm trying to spark the conversation. If you don't agree, I don't agree with you, can we be adults and have a conversation and see if we can find some sort of middle ground? At the end of the day, we are all similar. …
I get frustrated with it, too, just like the next person. I'm trying to implement a conversation about the injustices. Once you have conversations, things could be brought to life. You can get things done. When you just argue, nothing ever gets done.
MLB.com: You went through racial profiling in Toronto. You had fans say nasty things and throw things at you in Boston. Who taught you how to stay calm?
Jones: The game, my parents and [former big league infielder] Mark McLemore. Everything he has told me about the game -- and we are 20 years apart and we had the same English teacher in San Diego -- has been accurate. All the things I had to face, I had to go through. It comes with success. It comes with envy. Baseball is America's game, so everybody plays baseball. Everybody feels they are entitled to comment and do all that. I get it. You pay for a ticket, so therefore you can come to a game, have a few pops and berate the players. I get all that. But some of the stuff just needs to be left out of it. That's up to the security to stop it.
I completely understand the home fans yelling at the road fans. I get all that. But the second you start to take it personal, take it out of context, cussing and all that stuff, you take the fun out of the ribbing.
The second thing is, the fans around them have to police it. I get you don't want to have an altercation with some drunk guy. I get all that. But you are going to let your kids hear all this stuff? That's unacceptable to me. But I'm not the parent. I'm the one on the field that they are envying. You take it with a grain of salt. It sucks that you have to always be the big person. What separates me from the next guy is that I make more money than them? Does that make me better than them? No, it doesn't. Should we play by the same rules? Yes, because we are even.
MLB.com: As you stay calm, are you thinking about your children, August and Axel?
Jones: Of course. They are my legacy. All this baseball stuff is great, my kids will be my kids. I want them to know that their father faced all this adversity, but handled it the right way. He didn't handle it ignorantly. He handled it with respect to the other side. Right now I'm one of the voices for African-American baseball, and I love it. I'm not afraid of the challenge. I'm not afraid to have dialog with anybody.
MLB.com: How do you think you would have handled what Jackie Robinson went through in 1947?
Jones: I don't know if I could have handled it the way he handled it. Man. That's why he was in the position. I think Branch Rickey knew Jackie Robinson could handle it. That's why Jackie was in the Major Leagues. Other guys might not have been able to handle it the same way. They might have snapped or various things. He had grace and respect.
MLB.com: You have a lot going for you off the field. When your playing career is over, what do you want to do?
Jones: Take my kids to school, go to the country club and golf, and pick up my kids from school and then repeat it.
MLB.com: You just want to be retired?
Jones: Just repeat [what I just said].
MLB.com: During the offseason, you live on the West Coast. Would you like to be near your mother full-time?
Jones: At the end of the day with sports, it would be great to be close to my family near San Diego. They have airplanes. Get on the airplane and see me no matter where I'm at. The fact that I live in San Diego is great for my wife because she loves to golf all year-round.
MLB.com: I read so much about your mother and your grandmother. They raised you. What's the biggest thing they taught you?
Jones: Be myself. It's easy to be myself. It's hard to be something else. This is me. I'm a happy go-lucky guy, who will not sit there and tolerate B.S. That's all I am.
MLB.com: How many more years do you have in this game?
Jones: I want to play until I'm 40. I talked to Joey Votto and he said, "Play until you are 40 or you are a bust." It's an incentive to try and play until I'm 40.
MLB.com: Your wife is from Baltimore. Does she want you to stay in Baltimore?
Jones: Like I said, we live in San Diego. It's great having the support system of her family. Her whole family is here in Baltimore, so they are great as a support system. But we live in San Diego. The same thing that I said about my family, her family can get on a plane, too. The same thing applies. She can golf year-round.
MLB.com: How good is she at golf?
Jones: She is pretty solid. She is getting better and better. She has been doing it for two years. I don't even want to play her anymore.
MLB.com: She beat you at golf?
Jones: She wears me out. She takes it too seriously. I said, "Lady, I'm not trying to be all serious. I'm trying to have some fun."
MLB.com: What does it mean to play in Baltimore?
Jones: It's historic. It's one of the top black cities in America. To know that I get to be in front of a strong black old city -- I get to play on the same field, same clubhouse as some of the greats in Baltimore. To be in this conversation with Boog Powell, Cal Ripken, Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Eddie Murray, Brady Anderson, Mike Bordick, it's humbling and amazing, because those guys paved the way for us. You still see them. It's great to be involved in the organization that has tremendous history.
Bill Ladson has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002. He covered the Nationals/Expos from 2002-2016. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.