Seidel: Detroit Tigers rookie JaCoby Jones keeps the magic going

Jeff Seidel
Detroit Free Press Columnist
From left, Jose Iglesias, JaCoby Jones and J.D. Martinez lead the charge to swarm Tyler Collins (not pictured) after his sacrifice fly scored Jones with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning Wednesday at Comerica Park. The Tigers beat the Chicago White Sox, 3-2.

JaCoby Jones came gliding across home plate head-first, like a kid coming down a Slip’N Slide.

A rookie ending his first 24 hours in the major leagues by landing in one magical moment after another.

“It’s probably been the best two days of my life,” Jones said after scoring the winning run in the ninth inning on Wednesday afternoon, as the Tigers came from behind for a 3-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox. “It’s a good feeling. It’s great. It’s amazing. Just happy and everything like that.”

The fans in Comerica Park were going crazy, and the Tigers came rushing out of the dugout. Ian Kinsler stood at home plate and lifted Jones up — if ever so briefly. This is a big dude we are talking about.

“I kind of slid and I kind of jumped in the air a little bit,” Jones said. “And he kind of picked me up. It was perfect timing.”

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Perfect timing?

That’s Jones all right.

He has arrived at just the right time for this streaky team, fighting to make the playoffs.

‘Pleasantly surprised’

On Monday afternoon, after the Tigers had lost two straight games to the Los Angeles Angels, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus sat down with general manager Al Avila to talk about Jones, an intriguing, versatile young player with size, speed, skill and an ability to play third base, shortstop or outfield.

And Ausmus said: “Let’s bring up the kid because I think he’ll win a couple of games for us.”

Aug 31, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; JaCoby Jones hits a double in the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park.

OK. Maybe not.

In fact, Ausmus was quick to credit Avila.

“To be honest with you, that was brought to me by Al, as an idea,” Ausmus said.

This was not a quick, light decision. “I had seen him myself,” Avila said. “I had (assistant general manager) David Chadd go down there and see him. Jim Leyland was there. He just recently saw him. Alan Trammell saw him. They felt he could come up and give us a spark.”

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Has he ever.

“It’s unexpected,” Ausmus said. “Certainly not unheard of. Pleasantly surprised by it.”

Jones, 24, arrived in the Tigers’ clubhouse around 2 p.m. Tuesday, about five hours before he started at third base against the White Sox. The debut was something for the record books, as Jones became the first Tiger with two hits and two RBIs in his major league debut since the 1940s.

It turned into an emotional, heart-warming moment, as TV cameras caught his mother, Mary Jones, jumping up and down in the stands, giving out high-fives to her husband, Bubba, and wiping tears from her eyes with a napkin.

It was warm and wonderful, one of those special games that turned into an unforgettable night.

Tigers leftfielder Justin Upton and catcher James McCann douse rookie JaCoby Jones with water after the 8-4 win against the White Sox on Tuesday at Comerica Park.

After getting a Gatorade bath and doing all of the interviews, Jones went out to eat at Buffalo Wild Wings with his parents, a family tradition.

“Everybody kept coming over, congratulating him, high-fiving him,” Mary Jones said. “Taking pictures. It was so nice.”

Jones got a good night’s rest — as much as you can get when you are living out a fantasy.

Then came Wednesday.

In the bottom of the ninth inning of a tie game, Jones doubled off the wall.

Once again, the TV cameras found Mary Jones, who looked like she collapsed into her husband’s arms.

“It was pretty awesome,” Bubba Jones said. “It’s really surreal.”

‘A team win’

And though Jones was, once again, the feel-good story on this day, the Tigers won it because of the contributions of several players. Justin Verlander pitched brilliantly, his 10th consecutive quality start. J.D. Martinez delivered a huge RBI single. Jarrod Saltalamacchia had a beautiful diving catch, not to mention some quality at-bats. And Jose Iglesias had a key sacrifice bunt.

“That was as good a team win as we have had,” said Tyler Collins, who hit the game-winning sacrifice fly. “The way our team has come together right now, that’s the way we need to be playing and it’s refreshing. I feel unity. I feel everybody pulling in the same direction. We realize now it’s just about winning games.”

After the game, Kinsler looked over at Jones in the clubhouse.

“He’s a big boy,” Kinsler said. “He’s a very good athlete. He has a lot of ability to do different things on the field. He’s a lot of fun to watch. He brings excitement to the game. He’s not scared, man. He’s not in awe.”

Nobody is saying that Jones is headed to the Hall of Fame.

But for two days, it’s been fun as heck to watch.

From one magical moment to the next.

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Contact Jeff Seidel: Follow him on Twitter @seideljeff. To read his recent columns, go to

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