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Jones’ intangibles help drive Orix

Just looking at his productivity, many might think Orix swung and missed with the acquisition of Adam Jones, who brought a resume filled with MLB home runs, All-Star selections and Gold Gloves to the Buffaloes last season.

But based on the fact that the 36-year-old believes his intangibles have impacted a team that had finished in last place in the PL the past two seasons, the Buffaloes might’ve hit it out of the park as Orix looks to reach the Japan Series for the first time since 1996.

Jones joined the Buffaloes with the idea of helping mold the struggling Pacific League team into a championship-level contender.

He is batting .250 with 16 home runs, 66 RBIs and slugging .390 in 159 regular-season games over two years with the club, which this season won its first pennant since merging with the Kintetsu Buffaloes ahead of the 2005 season.

But as the team gets ready to face the Chiba Lotte Marines in the Climax Series Final Stage, which starts Wednesday night at Kyocera Dome Osaka, Jones said contributions to the team aren’t always something that can be measured.

“I think my contribution, if you look at the numbers, has not been the greatest in terms of in game and all that,” Jones told The Japan News on Sunday in a telephone interview.

“But my contribution has been reaffirmation for how to handle struggles, understanding situations and just how to be that big brother with a bunch of knowledge — I just try to pass down a little bit of what I learned in America.

“I’ve got some years under my belt and I’ve told them I’m an open book, and I just want to help. I try and just show up to the ballpark every day with a positive attitude, and when the manager calls on me to pinch-hit or to do anything, I’ve told him I’m always going to be ready.”

The roster is virtually unchanged from last season, when the Buffaloes went 45-68-7, but turned it around to go 70-55-18 this year for their 13th league title since the days when the franchise was known as the Hankyu Braves.

“I think the guys have just matured individually, and then matured collectively, understanding their strengths,” Jones said. “They just got better.”

Orix is looking to reach the Japan Series for the first time since 1996, when the Ichiro Suzuki-led BlueWave won it all, and ace right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto is set to lead the way.

Yamamoto, the top pitcher in Japan with the most wins (18), strikeouts (206) and best ERA among starters (1.39), goes in Game 1 of the best-of-seven PLCS, which Orix begins with a one-win advantage as pennant winners.

“I think he’s the best player in Japan overall,” Jones said of Yamamoto. “[The Hiroshima Carp’s] Seiya Suzuki, you can go [Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks star Yuki] Yanagita, you can go with [his teammate Kodai] Senga — I think Yamamoto is the best player here in Japan right now.

“I mean, 18-5 with a 1.39 ERA? I don’t [care] if you’re playing softball, that’s impressive.”

Jones said, based on his production and salary, he doesn’t think the team will pick up his option for next season. But if this is the end for him in Nippon Professional Baseball, he looks to go out with a bang.