Adam Jones is proud of what he accomplished this season. He was healthy all year and highly productive for stretches. And, perhaps just as important in his mind, he made an impact in the clubhouse.
Jones knows he is no longer viewed as an everyday player, but he sounds perfectly content having filled a role as an extra outfielder/veteran influence. He hopes to have the same role next season, either again with the Diamondbacks or with another club.
“I get that I’m not the franchise player that I was,” Jones said. “That was awesome. Who wouldn’t want to be that? I had my reign. I made salary for it and all that stuff. That’s great.
“At this point, I still want to play. I’m still adamant about playing. But I understand I have leadership qualities, expertise and experience in this game that not many people have.”
It will only be for one inning, but Taijuan Walker will feel good about pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2019.
For the first time since April of 2018, Walker will start for the D-backs on Sunday in the team’s season finale. Left-hander Alex Young will follow Walker, who had Tommy John surgery over 17 months ago.
The 26-year-old Walker appeared in three games last year before injuring his throwing elbow. He allowed five earned runs in 13.0 innings before the injury ended his season in a start on April 14 of that year against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In 2017, Walker’s first year with the Diamondbacks after being acquired in a trade from the Seattle Mariners, the pitcher made 28 starts, finishing the season with a 3.49 ERA and 1.33 WHIP.
Walker was a part of the deal where the D-backs also acquired Ketel Marte in exchange for Jean Segura, Mitch Haniger and Zac Curtis.
Segura was an All-Star in 2017 before being traded to the Philadelphia Phillies last offseason while Mitch Haniger was an All-Star in 2018 and had an injury-riddled year this season. Curtis is currently a free agent.
Marte, meanwhile, has developed into a star for the D-backs this season, hitting .329 with an OPS of .981 and leading the National League in hits with 187 before being ruled out for the rest of the year on Sept. 20 due to a back injury.
The rotation has gone through plenty of changes since the last time Walker pitched a full season for the 93-win D-backs in 2017.
Patrick Corbin signed with the Washington Nationals last offseason, Zack Greinke was dealt at the trade deadline, Shelby Miller was not re-signed and his replacement that season, Zack Godley, was designated for assignment in August. Walker and Robbie Ray are the two lone returning starters from that playoff team.
Arizona has one more year of team control left on Walker’s contract for next season and then the right-hander is set to become a free agent in 2021.
Jones, 34, was cited routinely by manager Torey Lovullo, General Manager Mike Hazen and a variety of teammates for his impact off the field. He helped keep struggling teammates afloat with words of encouragement. He helped others, including Ketel Marte, to recognize the value of rest.
“The guys have picked my brain, which has been really cool,” Jones said. “Since the day I’ve got here, I’m the old guy, especially among the position players, and they’ve picked my brain between the lines, away from the field, in the clubhouse, and it’s been humbling. I remember being 25, 26 and picking the brains of the older guys. It’s great to be able to reciprocate those kinds of things.”
Jones had his moments on the field, too. He homered on Opening Day, the start of a two-month stretch of solid production. On June 1, he was hitting .283/.329/.516. There were pockets of games in which Jones carried the team. He grudgingly admits it’s possible he might have worn down as the season progressed.
Jones, who signed a one-year deal in March, said he would like to return. He noted the decision is “not up to me,” and after a harsh experience on the free-agent market last year – he said shortly after signing that only two teams called on him – he doesn’t know what to expect this year. But he hopes his time here casts him in a positive light as the season winds down.
“I think that if a team contacts this front office here,” he said, “they would have nothing but good things to say to another team that might be looking to acquire me.”
Double-A Jackson catcher/outfielder Daulton Varsho and Double-A right-hander Josh Green were named the organization’s minor league player and pitcher of the year, respectively. Varsho hit .301/.378/.520 with 18 homers and 21 steals. Green began the year in High-A before a promotion to Double-A, finishing the year with a 2.71 ERA in 126 1/3 innings.
*Lovullo made official that right-hander Taijuan Walker would start on Sunday. He will throw just one inning before giving way to lefty Alex Young. It will mark Walker’s first start back following Tommy John surgery and a bout with a shoulder injury earlier this year.
*Outfielder Abraham Almonte suffered a strained left hamstring on Wednesday afternoon and will not play again this season, Lovullo said.