Even though center fielder Adam Jones said he believes the Orioles already have the pieces to be competitive in the American League East in 2014, he won't hesitate to knock on starting pitcher A.J. Burnett's door in Monkton bearing gifts if it means the free-agent lands in Baltimore this season.
"I will reach out to anybody if need be," Jones said Thursday at "Babe's Birthday Bash," where he was awarded with the Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation Community Service Award. "I know Burnett lives somewhere close to me. I'll go to his house. I'll take him some steaks if need be. It's out of my hands, but if you need me to help, I'll help."
While fans are waiting for the high-profile signing that Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette has promised, Jones said he'll leave the negotiating to the club's front office for now while he prepares for spring training to start this month.
"I'm not stressed out about it," Jones said."It's Dan sitting there on the phone trying to call agents. Me, I'm sitting at home working out.
"I think [fans] were disappointed last season too that we didn't add much, right? We still had a pretty good year. Even the year before, did we really add a lot going into 2012? So I think we're just getting better as a core. We've just got to figure out the small pieces to make this engine run."
Jones, a three-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner, has made a name for himself for his community service in the Baltimore area, and on Thursday he was recognized by the Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation for his philanthropy.
This is the eighth season the foundation recognized a local sports person with their community service award. Former Ravens offensive lineman Edwin Mulitalo won the first award in 2007 and current Oriole Nick Markakis has won in the past, as have former Orioles Brian Roberts and Melvin Mora. The Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation has also been recognized. Former Ravens linebacker O.J. Brigance and his wife Chanda received last year's award.
Since arriving in Baltimore in 2008, Jones has been active in the community, especially with local youth organizations. Last year, he was the Orioles' nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, which annually goes to a player who has demonstrated a high level of character and meritorious community service.
"It's [about] the impact," Jones said. "It's not about being proud of anything. It's just the opportunity knowing that I'm giving them an opportunity. Now they have to do the hard work. I've put in the infrastructure and opportunities at your helm. Now it's up to you to show your determination. That's the whole thing I get out of it. I just want to create the opportunity. … We've got to do it for ourselves, but sometimes we don't have the opportunity and that's where I'm in the situation where hopefully I can help as many as I can. "
Jones is active with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore — along with the Orioles Charitable Foundation, he donated $75,000 to the Brooklyn O'Malley Boys and Girls Club to build a new technology and learning center at the facility.
He also hosted a fundraiser tailgate party before the Ravens' home game against the Bengals on Nov. 10 that raised another $10,273 for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore.
Jones also donated equipment to the Orioles' Revitalizing Baseball in the Inner Cities (RBI) program and he is personally supporting a Jackie Robinson Foundation scholar, Alanah Grisham of San Diego, with a four-year college grant. In 2012, he was given the key to the city by Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake for his work with city youth as well as children from the YMCA of Central Maryland.
"I don't think he understands just how important he is to our community, especially with how much he gives back to the youth of Baltimore," said Mike Gibbons, the Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation executive director . "Babe Ruth loved kids and Adam Jones has that affinity for kids just like Babe Ruth. "
At Thursday's ceremony — which celebrated the 119th anniversary of Babe Ruth's birth in Baltimore — Jones was able to hold a bat that Ruth used in a game in 1927.
"I never thought I'd be in the situation I'm in right now," Jones said. "It's humbling to know that your name is being recognized among some people who are doing some really good things in their community and not just being recognized as a player."
Jones, who grew up in San Diego and participated in the local RBI program as a kid, knows what it is like to be without, and now he makes sure he gives back. Aside from his community efforts in Baltimore, he's also beginning philanthropy work in San Diego.
"Just coming from where I come from, it's just my honor to give opportunities," he said. "I didn't [have] the best equipment, the best everything, but I made the best of it. And to this day I try to make the best out of the situations I'm in and I just want to create opportunities so that someone from the inner cities, or from different backgrounds but similar situations can be the next me or the next anybody [else] who is giving back."