“He’s not afraid to put himself out there and tell you how he feels and it’s very admirable, especially in a city like Baltimore,” said Orioles first baseman Chris Davis, Jones’s longtime teammate. “It’s a city definitely in need of a voice and a city that’s full of hurt and full of pain.”
Davis added: “He understands what his responsibility is, not only as a baseball player but as a man.”
Jones landed with the Orioles in a 2008 trade with the Seattle Mariners, who drafted him in 2003. Baltimore was in the midst of 14 straight losing seasons, but Jones, along with Nick Markakis, Chris Tillman, Davis and several now-departed players, formed a core that ascended to relevancy and reached the American League Championship Series in 2014.
Since then, a piecemeal pitching staff, a weak farm system and little international spending have caught up to the Orioles. They finished 75-87 last season and will do worse this year. Although it is sad to see longtime teammates go, Jones said, he is happy that younger players like Machado, a soon-to-be top free agent, will get a chance to shine in a playoff race.
Jones wants to win, but concedes, “I’m older and I’ve had plenty of time.”
And he’s happy to spend at least a little more of it in Baltimore. Before Tuesday’s game, Jones spent more time posing for photographs and signing autographs than any other player. After a sixth-inning solo home run that tied the score, Jones gifted his batting gloves to a young fan in Orioles gear in the stands. His bond with the city, and reason for staying, were clear.
“He was with the Orioles when they weren’t really great and now he’s going to usher in a younger team,” said Jason Gross, 30, a Baltimore native wearing a Jones jersey during Tuesday’s game. “I’m glad he stayed. I know people want to see him win, but I get it. I respect players who want to play on their team.”