“Ayala put a big sombrero atop my locker today. That is pretty cool. He represents his country even though he is playing in the United States,” Jones said. “It is nice to see how prideful players are about their countries.”
Jones left for the WBC on March 3 and had been away for two weeks. He’ll next play for the Orioles on Wednesday in a home game against the Toronto Blue Jays, according to Manager Buck Showalter.
“I’ve played six straight nine-inning games, so my body feels good,” Jones said. “We’ve got two-plus weeks? I’ve got a little over two weeks. Opening day, I’ll be ready for that for sure.”
Jones batted .182 (4 for 22) with four RBI in the tournament, which ended prematurely for the United States as the squad failed to reach the semifinals.
“We didn’t win, so it was disappointing,” Jones said. “But it is actually a legit tournament. You see how good baseball is around this world. People really want to beat the U.S.”
Jones said he “absolutely” would sign up again if he is asked to play for Team USA at the next WBC.
Hoes optioned to Norfolk
The Orioles sent outfielder L.J. Hoes, a former All-Met from St. John’s, to Class AAA Norfolk after the team’s split-squad game in Clearwater.
The 23-year-old Hoes hit .304 (7 for 23) in 16 games this spring. More than anything, the converted infielder opened eyes with his outfield defense.
“I think the thing I was most impressed with is how far he came defensively. He played a good outfield here,” Showalter said. “He’s been good. He was really good defensively.”
Hoes, who Baseball America ranks as the sixth best prospect in Baltimore’s system, appeared in two games with the Orioles last year, getting one official at-bat. He hit .300 in 82 games at Norfolk last year.
Pearce goes deep, again
Orioles outfielder Steve Pearce continued his spring power surge in Clearwater, hitting his team-high fourth homer in the road split-squad game against the Phillies. Pearce, who was 1 for 2 on the day with a walk, is hitting .393 (11 for 28) with four home runs and 12 RBI this spring.
O’s win one, lose one
The Orioles split their split-squad games Sunday, beating the Minnesota Twins at home, 7-1, while losing to the Philadelphia Phillies, 5-3, in Clearwater.
Against the Twins, Steve Johnson pitched four scoreless innings while Matt Wieters homered for the third time this spring and J.J. Hardy homered for the first time, snapping a 1-for-21 slump.
Johnson, who is battling for the fifth spot in the rotation, allowed three hits, a walk and hit a batter while fanning two.
Right-hander Jason Hammel wasn’t pleased with his outing, but continues to feel healthy after last year’s right knee injuries. The favorite to be the team’s opening day starter, allowed four runs on six hits over 42
3 innings, striking out three and walking one.
“Out of all my outings, this one’s been the worst,” said Hammel. “I’m not too happy with it honestly, but it’s one of those days.
— Baltimore Sun