Jones passes the torch to Mullins, who has a debut to remember - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Jones passes the torch to Mullins, who has a debut to remember

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

BALTIMORE—Adam Jones’ tweet spoke poignantly. “End of an Era!!!! Embrace Change!!!!”

Jones tweeted that to signal that he acceded to, if not supported his move from center to right field as Cedric Mullins arrived from Triple-A Norfolk.

Mullins’ promotion was long awaited and when the announcement finally came Friday, Jones was prepared. He’d been working out in right field with first base coach Wayne Kirby.

Jones walked into the clubhouse as Mullins prepared for his first interview as a major leaguer. They shared a quick hug, and Jones disappeared, letting Mullins have the attention.

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Mullins had a quick start with a run-scoring double and an RBI single in his first two-at bats in the Orioles 19-12 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Friday night. He added a double in the ninth inning to become the first player in team history with three hits in his Orioles debut.

Ever since Jones declined a trade to Philadelphia late last month, the Orioles had been seriously preparing for Mullins’ arrival. Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette said as much July 29 after the Orioles traded Brad Brach.

“I think the club is in the rebuild mode, and we’re going to be taking a look at some younger ballplayers going forward,” Duquette said. “We’ve made that clear. That’s the intent of the club, and that’s the direction we’re going to go in.”

Although it took the Orioles 12 more days to add Mullins, manager Buck Showalter made it clear that the move wasn’t a short-term one.

“Adam and I have been talking for a while,” Showalter said. “He knew. Adam’s a smart guy.”

The 23-year-old Mullins, who was drafted in the 11th round in 2015, was often asked to join the Orioles for spring games from minor league camp in 2017. Showalter was impressed with him, and this year he stayed with the team for the entirety of spring training.

Mullins started at Bowie and, after hitting .313 in 49 games, was promoted to Triple-A Norfolk, though some in the organization thought he should have come directly to Baltimore.

At Norfolk, Mullins hit .267 in 59 games. He’d missed three games because of illness this week, and once he was over that, got the call.

He and Jones had grown close during those weeks in Sarasota with lockers near each other.

“We have been in contact,” Mullins said. “Him being the team leader, he’s being very supportive with me playing center field. We’ve had a lot of contact, and he’s guiding me through that process.”

Mullins said the support from Jones has been crucial.

“It’s huge,” he said “Coming from a guy with 10 years under his belt. He’s been a huge veteran and a huge team leader for all these years. Being in direct contact with him for a huge moment in both of our careers has been amazing.”

Showalter has been honest with Jones, whose time with the Orioles may not last past Oct. 1.

“I think it’s real tribute to him,” Showalter said “He’s been talking to Cedric for a while. The thing that players don’t like, they just don’t like something being thrown on them, last second. He and I have been talking about it, a matter of when and not if.”

Mullins’ debut was somewhat spoiled by the Orioles’ sloppy pitching. The 19 runs were the most scored against them since July 16, 2012.

Showalter felt the team was energized by Mullins.

“That’s possible, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t pitch well,” Showalter said. “You walk 10 guys, I don’t care who you bring in there, right?”

According to STATS LLC, the Orioles have been mathematically eliminated from the AL East race with 46 games remaining, tying the 1962 Mets and 1932 Red Sox for earliest elimination. Their record is 35-81.

Mullins’ night began with a surprise when Jones allowed him to lead the team out on the field.

“The center fielder leads (the team) on the field, last time I checked,” Jones said.

Mullins couldn’t believe it.

“In all honesty, I thought he was messing with me,” Mullins said. “I was looking around, ‘So is the pitcher good? All right?’ And all the players were saying, ‘Hey, go, you’re leading it.’ So I took their word for it. And went out on the field. And then I took the scenic route. The long way around.

“It’s hard to explain. It kind of felt like a pass-the-torch situation. Just being able to feel like you’re taking charge of your debut. That’s the only way I can describe it,’ Mullins said.

Showalter, who has been eager to see Mullins play, is content with having Jones mentor him.

“I’m so happy he’s got someone like Adam to be there for him,” Showalter said. “It had to be the right guy. We think Cedric might be the right guy.”

12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Ekim

    August 11, 2018 at 5:05 am

    Did anyone notice Gausman’s performance last night? Eight innings… no runs and no walks. I expect we’ll see similar type outings now that he’s out from under MacDowell.

    • VICTORTEE

      August 11, 2018 at 10:12 am

      I hope Gausman pitches well for the Braves. But even the Braves tv announcers said it will be easier for him now since he is out of the AL East, out of Camden Yards, and faces a pitcher rather than the DH. It really surprised me that they were so honest about how much easier it will be for him.

      • Rich Dubroff

        August 11, 2018 at 3:46 pm

        Victortee, it’s conventional baseball wisdom, and not bad thinking. It’s eight hitters really in stead of nine, and larger ballparks.

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 11, 2018 at 3:45 pm

      Ekim, a change of scenery often helps, and switching leagues where batters are unfamiliar with pitchers often gives them an advantage at first.

  2. musicmanjr

    August 11, 2018 at 8:38 am

    What a debut for Mullins. His speed, hitting skills, and defensive versatility are exactly what the Orioles need. I’d love to see him have a career similar to Torii Hunter.

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 11, 2018 at 3:48 pm

      musicman, that line of thinking is music to the Orioles’ ears.

  3. chico salmon

    August 11, 2018 at 9:20 am

    I was at the game last night. Mullins’ speed was invigorating to see, as a fan. Especially an Orioles fan. Watching him score from second and easily beat the throw reminded me of Al Bumbry. One game, small sample size, and all that….But it was a reason to go to the game. I’m not saying he’s Bumbry, but we haven’t had that kind of speed in so long. I’m pulling for the kid.

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 11, 2018 at 3:49 pm

      Chico, I thought Mullins brought some life to the ballclub, and it’s fun to see.

  4. Curt Motton

    August 11, 2018 at 10:37 am

    Jonsie…class act! Exciting to finally see Cedric Mullins and yes, a little reminder of The Bee!
    Still love my O’s!

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 11, 2018 at 3:50 pm

      Curt, Buck Showalter compared Mullins to Bumbry, an interesting comparison.

  5. Jack Gibbons

    August 11, 2018 at 11:50 am

    I agree with the comments about Mullins. His debut took me back to 1973, when the Orioles had Al Bumbry and Rich Coggins in an outfield that could fly, and hit. He definitely brought energy to the team, but the pitching eliminated the chance for a perfect evening. Still, it was a promising start, whetting the appetite for more prospects to move up when they’re ready. It would be nice if the Orioles had a shortstop in that group, but I digress.

  6. cedar

    August 11, 2018 at 8:24 pm

    Jones continues to show what a class act he is on and off the field. Next year’s young team is going to need a veteran presence and I can think of no better person than Adam Jones. Showing the players how to conduct themselves not only on the diamond but in the community as well. The O’s could do a lot worse than resign Jones and allow him to mentor the next generation of players.

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