Diamondbacks Adam Jones homers in first game action of spring

Shuffling between a pair of adjacent diamonds at Salt River Fields, Adam Jones wore a red jersey top and white pants. After years in black and orange, it looked strange. He admitted later it felt unusual, too.

That was the only part of Jones' game that looked out of place on Friday afternoon. His first game action since signing a one-year deal with the Diamondbacks earlier in the week couldn’t have gone much better.

Bouncing between Double-A and Triple-A games, Jones took seven trips to the plate. He singled to center field. He drove to long home run to left-center. He walked three times.

He tracked pitches and worked counts. He laid off sliders and swung through the occasional fastball. He slid into second on a force play. He did not play the field, but he looked and felt like a baseball player again.

"It felt amazing," Jones said, "to be out there between the lines with the fellas."

Jones is 33, a veteran of 13 big league seasons. But signing midway through spring training presents a challenge unlike previous springs.

This time a week ago, Jones was working out at Grand Canyon University. Now he is up against the clock in preparing for Opening Day.

Players have signed up for the first half of a decade. Many who have done, so have struggled, particularly position players.

Five years ago, slugger Kendrys Morales and shortstop Stephen Drew missed out on spring training, signed midseason deals and performed badly. Last season, Neil Walker signed midway through March and wound up

Third baseman, however, signed last year on the same day as Jones – March 11 – and had a roughly in line season with his career averages.

Jones believes it is down to players communicating with their teams about how much time they need to get ready. He said in springs he'd typically had anywhere from 50 to 70 at, but he doesn't think he needs nearly that many to feel ready.

"Twenty, 25 at-bats and I'm ready to roll," he said. "

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But he doesn't feel like he's on par with teammates when it comes to his preparedness.

"I am trying to catch a lot of guys who are at the 40, 50, 60 at-bat mark," Jones said. "I don't feel like I'm starting from zero, but I'm definitely not where the guys are at."

If he was at bats on Friday, Jones was not too far behind. He was facing mostly minor leaguers and didn't see premium velocity, but his at-bats were competitive and he appeared comfortable in the box.

He flew to the warning. In his fourth, he lined up a first-pitch fastball into a center for a single. The next time up, he connected on a 1-1 fastball and launched it out to left-center field.

In all, he saw 31 pitches, and he plans to return to the minor league.

"I had been trying to stay in shape, trying to stay ready," Jones said. “I'm just trying to get a good pitch to hit and lay off the other stuff. A couple of cutters, a few cut-ups, a swing cut, some change-ups, a couple of cutters. It was good to see everything. …

“I think I’m right on course. I am 100 percent confident I will be ready for Opening Day. "


The Diamondbacks made another round of cuts on Friday, optioning right-handers Jimmie Sherfy and Joey Krehbiel to Triple-A Reno and Reassigning Catcher Tyler Heineman

Of the five, Sherfy seemed like the best bet to break camp on the Opening Day, but manager Torey Lovullo said Sherfy's stuff was down.

"It´s about what we were seeing coming out of his hand and the command around the plate," Lovullo said. "It just wasn't what we needed to see at this point in time."

Sherfy was sitting at 88-91 mph with his fastball on Wednesday. He has sat around 94 mph at the big league level the past two seasons.

* Right-hander Ricky Nolasco, who is in a minor league deal, is dealing with a sore arm, Lovullo said.

* Outfielder Jarrod Dyson, who is working his way back from an oblique injury, took at-bats in the same game as Jones on Friday. He remains on track to be ready for opening day.

Reach Piecoro at (602) 444-8680 or nick.piecoro@arizonarepublic.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickpiecoro.

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