Adam Jones is ecstatic about one particular baseball transaction during the last week.
No, it’s not his six-year, $85.5 million extension with the Baltimore Orioles.
It was the Detroit Tigers’ decision to call up outfielder Quintin Berry, Jones’ best friend since they were 5 years old and attending Webster Elementary School in San Diego. The two are so close that Jones is the godfather to Berry’s son.
The two took very different routes to the big leagues: Jones, drafted by the Seattle Mariners after his senior year of high school, was a top prospect and made his debut six years ago at age 20. Berry played in college at San Diego State, which delayed the start of his pro career. He is with his fifth organization and didn’t debut in the majors until last week — at 27.
Jones said he nearly cried when Berry gave him the news.
“My best friend is in the big leagues,” Jones said. “To be honest with you, that’s where my excitement has been. I’ve been trying to watch him. He’s been playing pretty good so far. It’s been real fulfilling to see that.”
Berry has an .869 OPS through his first six games and is 3 for 3 in stolen bases. He’s been so impressive that he has a chance to stay with the Tigers once Austin Jackson returns from the disabled list — perhaps in Comerica Park’s spacious left field, where his speed would come in very handy.
“I told him, ‘You know Jackson’s coming back. Force them to keep you there,’” Jones said. “He’s doing good. He’s stealing bags. He’s doing things they don’t have. Speed doesn’t slump, unless you get a hamstring injury.
“I told him, ‘You know your game. At this level, you use it. You don’t need to hit doubles. You don’t need to hit home runs. You need to get on base – bunt, hit singles. (Miguel) Cabrera and (Prince) Fielder are behind you, so you’re scoring.’”
Jones said the two have dreamed about the chance to play against one another in the majors. That may happen in Baltimore, during the first series after the All-Star break.
Jones and Berry, who played together at San Diego’s Morse High School, have teased each other for years about which of them has more range. Jones, who won a Gold Glove in 2009, took note of Berry’s highlight-reel, game-saving catch Sunday in Minnesota — though not in the way you might expect.
“It was a horse (manure) route,” Jones said, laughing. “When I called him, that was the first thing I said: ‘Nice horse (manure) route.’”
Jones did have one piece of constructive advice for Berry: The Tigers played a Memorial Day matinee in Boston due to the holiday, and Berry told Jones the team bus was leaving the hotel at 10:30 that morning.
“Yeah, Cabrera’s got a 10:30 bus,” Jones told him, not-to-subtly reminding him of the unwritten rule that veterans should arrive later than the players who have yet to establish themselves. “Fielder’s got a 10:30 bus. (Gerald) Laird’s got a 10:30 bus. (Jhonny) Peralta’s got a 10:30 bus. Your (butt) is taking a taxi. Don’t you dare get on that bus.”
So what happened?
“He took a taxi,” Jones said with a grin.
— Jon Paul Morosi