Former Orioles great Adam Jones hints playing career might be over: ‘A hell of a run’

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BALTIMORE — Former Orioles outfielder Adam Jones didn’t entirely shut the door on his playing career. But in an article published Tuesday for The Players’ Tribune, Jones hinted at his time playing baseball reaching an end, reminiscing on his time in Japan as the “perfect sendoff.”

“I feel incredibly lucky,” Jones wrote. “I gave every day my all. And it’s been a hell of a run.”

The five-time All-Star selection with the Orioles last played in Major League Baseball in 2019 with the Arizona Diamondbacks, a final stop after 11 seasons in Baltimore and two in Seattle.

Then the 36-year-old moved to Japan, where he played for the Orix Buffaloes. He didn’t realize it at the time, but his last in-game swing of the bat as a professional might’ve happened there.

In Game 5 of the 2021 Japan Series against the Yakult Swallows, with his wife and two sons sitting in the stands, Jones hit a pinch-hit solo home run to give the Buffaloes the lead.

Jones wrote that he was “fortunate enough to have had an amazing career,” beginning with the 2003 draft, when the Mariners selected him 37th overall. A trade brought him to Baltimore, where he was a fixture in center field and won four Gold Glove awards.

But that last swing with Orix? That tops it all, part of an overseas adventure with his family that resulted in “the time of our lives.”

“I’d love to keep playing,” Jones wrote. “I really would. But if my time has indeed come to an end, and that last blast against Yakult is indeed my swan song, you know what … I’m good with that. Baseball has given so much to me over the years. It’s taken me to so many places, allowed me to see and experience more than I could’ve ever imagined.”

Jones totaled 1,781 hits, 263 home runs, 866 RBIs and batted .279 in his 11 seasons with the Orioles, helping lead the franchise to the playoffs in 2012 — their first postseason appearance since 1997 — as well as the American League East title and a berth in the AL Championship Series in 2014 and an AL wild-card berth in 2016.

Last month, Jones said on 105.7 FM that the Orioles hadn’t invited him to any planned events for the 30-year anniversary of Camden Yards, although an Orioles spokesperson said the club was still in the process of inviting Jones and other notable alumni from the ballpark’s history.