Representing his country was a dream Orioles center fielder Adam Jones had since he was a teenager growing up in San Diego.

Twice while he was in high school, he tried out for his Team USA age-group squad and didn't make it.

But now, the 27-year-old Jones will have his chance, playing for the United States in the third World Baseball Classic, which begins Tuesday.

"I got cut from Team USA tryouts when I was 15 and 16," Jones said. "I just wasn't good enough. They took other players, and that was fuel to me to get better. Even at 16, I realized that you've got to get better. Last one standing."

The lesson Jones learned was simple: Keep working, don't take a day off, and like a saying he often uses on Twitter — stay hungry.

"Now I get to play when it matters," Jones said. "[I'm] excited that I get to wear my country on my chest. No prouder moment as an American."

Jones played his last game before leaving Orioles spring training in Friday's win, 6-5, over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Grapefruit League before departing for Arizona on Sunday morning to begin training with Team USA, which opens pool play March 8 against Mexico.

For Jones, not making Team USA as a teenager served as motivation that he uses to this day. He has used doubters to drive him to become one of the best young players in the game.

"I've always been the underdog my entire life," Jones said. "I missed a couple Team USAs, and I worked my [butt] off and I wasn't good enough, so it was completely understandable. There were guys who were better than me at the time.

"I've been told I wasn't going to hit myself past [Single-A]," Jones added. "I remember I got to Triple-A at 20, I saw one of the scouts who said something like that, and I said 'Thank you, buddy, you just threw fuel on my fire.' That's all it is. I'm not here to prove nobody wrong. I'm here to prove myself right." - See more at: http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/orioles/bs-sp-orioles-adam-jones-0302-20130301,0,7093894.story#sthash.E53DXWU2.dpuf