Jones, Wieters enjoying returning as Orioles' guest instructors; Mullins thinks he'll play again next week - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Spring Training

Jones, Wieters enjoying returning as Orioles’ guest instructors; Mullins thinks he’ll play again next week

Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan USA TODAY Sports

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SARASOTA, Florida—For the first time since they retired, two of the best players of the Orioles’ recent past, Adam Jones and Matt Wieters are currently in camp as guest instructors.

Jones, who played 11 seasons with the Orioles and is among the all-time leaders in most offensive categories, was a five-time All-Star, a four-time Gold Glove winner in center field and won the Silver Slugger in 2013.

Wieters, who was the fifth overall selection in 2007, played eight seasons with the Orioles, won two Gold Gloves and was a four-time All-Star.

“These guys are hungry,” Jones says of the current Orioles. “They’re good, they’re talented, they’re athletic. What [Executive vice president/general manager Mike] Elias and his regime have done is implement a different philosophy, a winning philosophy, a winning culture from the minor leagues to the top.

“You see the success they’re having started some years ago with the draft, player development. The sky’s the limit for them. They’re going to have a lot of tough decisions to make for the roster. There’s a lot of guys knocking on the door, rightfully so. It’s good to see a really well-run organization right now, and what they’re doing is really cool.”

Jones has been impressed by some of the players who have sought him out, including minor league infielder Errol Robison, non-roster outfielder Daniel Johnson and outfielder Ryan McKenna.

“They asked me the right questions,” Jones said. “McKenna asked me the right questions about how to stay in the big leagues. ‘Be a Swiss army knife, do what you can do, do whatever you can do to impress somebody. You don’t get many chances, so do what you can do.

“I really like [Colton] Cowser. I think last year, first bite of the apple, he struggled a little bit. We’ve all seen that, but seeing him now in spring training, it’s a different mindset. He’s going to have a monster year, no matter where he’s at. He’s a tremendous talent and now I think he has the confidence now to understand where’s he at. Realize you’re a major leaguer, be a major leaguer, play like a major leaguer. Everything I’ve seen has been with intent, it’s fun, it’s fun to see.”

Jones, who lived in Baltimore during his time with the Orioles still has close family ties with the city.

“Obviously, Baltimore is a baseball city first,” he said. “Football, you know the Ravens are going to be very competitive. They always are…When the Orioles are good, there’s no better place.

While Jones played with four current players, outfielders Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins and Anthony Santander and pitcher John Means in 2018, his last season with the team, there’s no one left from Wieters’ last season in 2016.

“It’s nice to have Jonesy here,” Wieters said. “Weirdly, a lot of the facilities are very similar, a few different training methods than when we were playing, but there’s the feel of the young dynamic kind of when we first moved into this building [in 2010].

“Different faces, different names, different backgrounds, but…a bunch of younger kids who want to prove something.”

It’s Wieters’ first look at Adley Rutschman, and he’s impressed.

“Mature,” Wieters said. “There’s such a group of guys here, they’re [concentrating] on getting better. They have this kind of focus about them when they get here to do the work. He’s no different. He has fun when he wants to have fun, but there’s a drive behind him, which is fun to watch.”

Wieters doesn’t watch much baseball, but his three young sons want to watch. He’s too busy with them to think about coaching and managing.

“The one thing you miss, you miss the clubhouse, you miss the competition, you miss the chess game of baseball when you get out,” he said. “But I enjoy being around the family, and the schedules that coaches have to keep now and the amount of time, it’s not where I’m at.

“For now, I’ve enjoyed working with middle school, high school-types, taking some of the stuff I’ve learned and teach the younger ages.”

Mullins confident he’ll be back for Opening Day.

Mullins left Monday’s game in the first inning with right hamstring discomfort, and on Wednesday said he was confident he’d be ready for the start of the regular season on March 28th.

“I felt like a crampy sensation, so I went on and shut it down, just to be on the safe side,” Mullins said.

“MRI came back clean, so what I thought was basically what happened. It was a matter of working out the tightness. We’ll probably slow play it a little bit. I expect to be back in games sometime next week.”

Mullins is 2-for-9, and thinks he has plenty of time to get ready for the season.

“A hundred percent,” he said. “The swings are feeling good. I feel like I’m having good at-bats. Once I get the green [light], I’ll be back and doing lives on the back fields. I feel like I’m putting together a lot of at-bats, still plenty of time left.”

Mullins had two stints on the injured list with right adductor/groin strains last year and wasn’t concerned he had reinjured the groin.

“I had a strong feeling it wasn’t as big a deal,” Mullins said. “I feel like other injuries in the past, I’ve had some form of lead or buildup. This wasn’t that. Coming off what felt like was one of the hotter days we’ve had during spring, I did a decent amount of work beforehand to get ready. Just trying to get my work in. I might have overexerted just a little bit and led to the dehydration.”

Manager Brandon Hyde is hopeful that Mullins will be back soon.

“We’re definitely going to take it slow with him and not rush him back,” he said. “But it’s getting a little better every day and we just want to be careful with him.”

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