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Jones focused on stringing together wins with former team in town

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder Adam Jones spent 11 seasons in Baltimore, earning five All-Star nods, four Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger award.

He was a fixture in the Orioles lineup, ranking fifth in hits (1,781) and homers (263) and sixth in RBIs (866) in franchise history. Jones also helped Baltimore reach the postseason five times.

And while the outfielder built strong friendships and experienced good times with the ballclub over that span, it’s business as usual for Jones, who is focused on winning games in the Valley more than reminiscing about his days with a former team.

Even if the matchup marks the first time Jones has faced his former team.

“We need W’s, man, most important thing,” Jones said when asked about there being a special meaning with the Orioles in town pregame. “You’ve got to handle business first, especially a week before the trade deadline. We’re right in the thick of it so reality, and what’s really at stake and what’s really most important for us is to come out and get some wins.

“We had a tough series last series with Milwaukees, lost three out of four, and I think those three games we could have won so we’re in a precarious situation to where I want to try to give all my energy to my teammates because it’s an important time for us. That’s really what’s most important.”

For the D-backs, Jones, who joined the team late during spring training in March, has been a crucial piece in adding pop to the team offensively.

Ahead of Monday’s matchup, Jones sits fourth on the team in hits (92), home runs (13) and tied for fourth in RBIs (44). Something the team looked for following the departures of Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock in the offseason.

But it’s not just stats that make the outfielder.

“It’s tremendous leadership, it’s a huge presence, it’s charisma,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said about Jones. “People flock to him and he leads by example as well as leads by some of the words that he says. He’s very humble and he’s very quiet, but when he decides to say something, it’s something you zone in on and pay attention to.

“We wouldn’t be in this position we are this season without Adam Jones. We’re lucky that he was available when he was, and I’m thrilled that I get to watch him from the same dugout after watching him from across the field for so many years.”

The Jones addition has helped the team stay in the race for the postseason, with the second half of the season in full swing.

“It’s good to be fighting for something, and I’m in a great place right now,” Jones said. “We’ve got a great group of guys with an attainable goal so we got to go after and get it.”

Entering play Monday, the D-backs have lost five of their last eight games, with three defeats coming at the hands of the Milwaukee Brewers at Chase Field. The Brewers hold the second Wild Card spot in the National League, with Arizona sitting 2.5 games back and tied with the San Francisco Giants at 50-50.

The tide could be turning in favor of the D-backs, however, with the Orioles representing a get-right series of sorts as they hold one of the worst records in MLB. The three-game home stretch is followed by a four-game road series against the Miami Marlins, another team at the bottom of the MLB barrel.

But while it’s easy to look into future series, Lovullo knows it starts with the first one.

“I think they’re huge, and I sat before this very room and said four days ago the exact same thing and it didn’t go that well,” Lovullo said of the next two series. “But we’re still here, we still have a pulse, we’re still in the race and we’re proud of that. But we’ve got to go out and earn things. We’ve got to earn things every single day so I want us to make statements, I want us to be ready to play baseball in the first inning today.

“I want us to go out and perform, expect to win the game and have the believe that we’re in the right place doing the right thing every single day and we’ll see where that takes us tomorrow and do the exact same thing tomorrow. But this is a very, very critical time of the year as we all know why, but I don’t want us to look beyond the next three days. I want us to take care of today.”

BASE HITS

– Blake Swihart got through some progression with Visalia, recording four at-bats. Per Lovullo, Swihart is traveling Monday to join Triple-A Reno. He’ll continue to DH and play left and right field. Swihart last played May 31.

– Luke Weaver threw out to 90 feet. Lovullo said the pitcher felt very good and got a little bit more on the ball. Weaver will have follow-up imaging on his forearm either later this week or early next week, according to the skipper. Weaver last played May 26 in a win over the Giants.

– Taijuan Walker threw at 60 feet and said he felt good. Lovullo called it a “very encouraging sign” as the pitcher works his way back from Tommy John surgery. He last played for the D-backs in 2018.

– David Peralta had four at-bats in the AZL, walking three times Sunday night. He also took batting practice with the D-backs pregame and is scheduled to play tomorrow as a DH in the AZL, per Lovullo. Peralta last played July 3 against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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