SEATTLE -- Asked if his fantastic fourth-inning catch in Wednesday's 2-1 Orioles win was likely the best of the day, Adam Jones didn't hold back.
"There's always some good plays," said Jones, the energetic Orioles outfielder who isn't afraid to speak his mind. "But that's going to be hard for them to top."
Jones was hardly alone in his assessment, as his catch -- which involved Jones slamming up against the wall and doing a backwards somersault when hitting the ground -- gave a scuffling Orioles team a huge lift in what was then a tie game.
"[He's] just a tremendous athlete," Orioles closer Kevin Gregg raved about Jones. "You could see it in the outfield today. He looked like [Ken] Griffey with the play against the wall there."
Jones remarkably held on to the ball -- hit by Mariners catcher Miguel Olivo -- and raised his arm triumphantly in the air when coming up and taking a knee.
"I've seen him do it plenty of times from right field, but from first base, it puts it into perspective how great of a catch that is," Nick Markakis said of Jones, who went on to hit a decisive eighth-inning homer. "It was probably one of the catches of the year that I've seen. It doesn't surprise me that he comes up with that ball."
"It was awesome," added starter Brian Matusz, who initially thought Olivo had hit a home run. "It was a good momentum thing because it put a smile on my face and it helped me relax a little bit and have fun."
With some family and friends in attendance, Jones -- who was traded from Seattle in 2008 -- said he had been working on making catches from different angles. He knew from the start of the warning track that it was about 2 1/2 steps until he would crash into the wall, so he turned, took a pair of steps and jumped without even looking at the ball.
"That was perfect," Jones said of his execution. "It's something that's really hard to replay in my mind. I remember doing it, but it's hard to put into words."
"Jones has been spoiling us with his play all year," manager Buck Showalter said. "On top of that he's had a great effort since day one of Spring Training."
Lee's rehab assignment to be delayed
SEATTLE -- First baseman Derrek Lee (left oblique strain) traveled from extended spring training back to Baltimore on Wednesday, and was scheduled to start a rehab assignment for Double-A Bowie on Thursday night.
Lee progressed quickly at extended spring training, taking live batting practice on Wednesday before catching a flight out of Florida.
"Whether it's one game, two games, three games, four games, that's yet to be seen," Showalter said of Lee's stay with Bowie. "We'll let somebody else make that decision, but he's around the corner, we think."
Showalter said after Wednesday's game, however, that Lee's timetable will be a few days longer than originally planned, given that his grandfather passed away. It's more likely that he will be activated at some point next week.
Markakis gets a shot in the infield
SEATTLE -- Outfielder Nick Markakis had been lobbying manager Buck Showalter for weeks, reminding the O's skipper that he came up as a pitcher and first baseman long before he manned right field in a Baltimore uniform.
On Wednesday afternoon, Markakis finally got his wish, getting his first career start at first base in the Orioles series finale against the Seattle Mariners. It was the first time he has played the position since high school.
With first baseman Derrek Lee (left oblique strain) on the 15-day disabled list and the Orioles facing a potentially winless six-game road trip, Showalter hoped that Wednesday's lineup -- which rested a slumping Vladimir Guerrero and moved first baseman Luke Scott to designated hitter -- could also provide a spark for his struggling squad.
"You know, sometimes it's kind of good for a team just to get something a little out of the ordinary that we haven't had every day," said Showalter who gave Markakis his first baseman's glove last season. "And maybe we are in need of that. Make no mistake about it, Derrek [Lee] hopefully will be back in a day or two."
While Lee is slated to start a rehab assignment with Double-A Bowie on Thursday, Markakis was thrilled to get a shot in the infield to cap the Orioles' West Coast trip.
"I didn't know if I would get the opportunity, but I've always thought it would be fun to get another view and perspective of the game at a different position," he said. "I think it just makes our lineup more versatile. It gets more guys in there with the injuries that we do have. Whatever helps the team, whatever makes the team better and allows us to get guys in there that need to get in...I'm up for the challenge. We'll see how it goes."
Markakis, who was out taking extra infield work with several of the Orioles coaches, still has Showalter's glove and planned on using it for the game.
"The one he had I believe is pretty ratty," Showalter said. "He doesn't know it yet but I'll get blamed for anything that goes wrong over there, because it's my glove."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.