ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Adam Jones has missed the last four games, and won’t play in the Orioles’ final game on Oct. 1. Their star center fielder is resting his sore legs.
Prior to the Orioles' 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays before 15,416 at Tropicana Field on Sept. 30, Jones said he feels better, but admits he pushed against his best judgment to play in the final games in the Orioles' final homestand.
Once the team was eliminated from postseason consideration, Jones rested.
"I don’t want to go limping into the offseason," Jones said. "The last few years I’ve been able to go into the offseason healthy and strong and [been] able to get stronger, so I think this is the same…I don’t want to push it and hurt myself."
Jones ends the 2017 season with a .285 average with 26 home runs and 73 RBIs. His .787 OPS was his highest since 2013.
In order for the Orioles to contend, "Pitching, defense and timely hitting wins you games. This year we didn’t click on all cylinders," Jones said.
"Sometimes we pitched, sometimes, we hit. We always played pretty good defense. But we never hit and pitched at the same time cohesively."
Jones played in 147 games and has acknowledged he needs to take more time off.
"I’m drained. I think each year you just drain yourself," Jones said. "I'm a firm believer that I don’t have to play 162 games anymore. Cal Ripken did that stuff. I did it once as a center fielder. I don’t necessarily regret it, but it wasn’t the smartest decision."
In recent years, Jones has spoken with managing partner Peter Angelos about the team's needs and made specific recommendations.
"A lot of things that need to be done," Jones said. "We’ve got a lot of money coming off the books this offseason. We also have a lot of question marks after next year, so I’m going to get away from this game and recalculate how I approach Mr. Angelos."
Left-hander Zach Britton, third baseman Manny Machado and Jones will be free agents after 2018. The Orioles signed Jones to a six-year, $85.5 million extension in May 2012. Does he plan to ask for another extension that would kick in for 2019 when he’ll turn 34?
"I'm not going to advocate for anything," Jones said. "I just don’t think you can go to the owner and say, 'Mr. Angelos, I would like this.' Nah, that doesn’t work. I think everybody would do that if it worked that way…They know I’m here throughout next year. There’s nothing I can do about that part, but beyond that, it’s up to them."
Jones isn’t calling for a teardown, just improvements.
"I would not be an advocate to rebuild and all that stuff," Jones said. "I’m only getting older. I want to win. I think you throw all your cards out there next year and see what you’ve got."
Miguel Castro got his first major league start and allowed a three-run homer to Brad Miller in the fourth inning. The right-hander gave up six hits in 3 1/3 innings.
"I was trying to locate the ball low in the zone throughout the whole game," Castro said through a translator. "Obviously there was one pitch which he took advantage of it."
Manager Buck Showalter is hoping Castro can compete for a starting job next spring.
"He got a little tired," Showalter said. "He worked through a lot of trouble. It wasn’t like it was an unscathed first three innings. It was a good step for him. We’ll see if he can build on it, give us some options as he goes forward."
The loss was the Orioles’ 18th in the last 22 and their 75-86 record keeps them tied for fourth place in the AL East with Toronto. They’ve lost 13 of their last 15 road games.
Designated hitter Pedro Alvarez’s two-run single in the eighth broke a 23-inning scoreless streak.
NOTES: RHP Kevin Gausman (11-11, 4.81) and LHP Blake Snell (4-7, 4.27) are the final day starters. Game time is 3:10 p.m. … LF Trey Mancini’s hitting streak ended at 17.