DETROIT — Before his teammates came onto the field, before the bustle of the crowds poured in, and it was just him on the field with his parents seated nearby, JaCoby Jones took some time to appreciate the moment. His first major league hit wasn’t so quiet, though, and just getting that was an interesting endeavor.
Jones was supposed to bunt in the sixth inning. With two on and a chance to give the Tigers the lead, manager Brad Ausmus asked the third baseman to bunt. That request was rescinded when he saw Jones’ approach, and it was for the better.
“Well, I talked to him ahead of time in case that situation arose,” Ausmus said. “I asked him if he'd bunted and he said 'for a hit.' And I said, ‘Well if you get the bunt sign, go ahead and bunt for a hit, don't try and sacrifice it.’
“But after the first one he took, the second one, I wasn't overly impressed with, so I took it off,” he added with a chuckle. “So, we just let him swing at that point.”
After a called strike to put him in a 1-2 count, Jones lined a slider sharply to right field, plating Justin Upton and giving the Tigers their first lead of the ballgame. His mom was understandably excited, and it brought fans to their feet in appreciation.
Jones, after the game, still had no idea where his game ball was. But initially, the biggest moment of the day was getting that first defensive play out of the way. A throw in the dirt to Miguel Cabrera, he admitted, showed the nerves. But that’s where they ended.
That hit was a “relief” for Jones more than anything. What mattered to him was that his family was there for support.
“That's one of the biggest things that I can think about right now, is my parents being here for that moment for me,” Jones said. “That's just, I don't know how to describe it. It's just amazing that they could just get on the plane and come up here and watch me. All those years that they put up with me, traveling and everything. It's amazing, so I'm glad that they could be here.”
Jones finished with a double and a single to push two runs across the plate for Detroit. He had been heating up at the Triple-A level in August, but before that he’d struggled after solid performance at Double-A Erie. With the Tigers down a potent bat in Nick Castellanos and in need of at least moderate defense, Jones provided both on Tuesday night.
Ausmus took Jones out of the game late in favor of Andrew Romine because of the sure defensive bet, but that likely won’t be needed for center field, Ausmus said. Regardless of where he plays for the time being, Jones’ first two hits came through in a big way. But between all that, he took the time to revel in the moment — during, and before the game.
“I was definitely looking around the whole field the entire game,” he said. “Just looking around and taking it all in. It was a great feeling, being out there, all the big league players and Miggy, all the people I watched for the last six, seven years and when I was a teenager. It was just a great time for me.”