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Detroit Tigers News: JaCoby Jones just wanted to play

A look back on some current players as well as into the archives of Tigers history.

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Kansas City Royals v Detroit Tigers Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images

With the final weeks of the season upon us, it is time to look back and reflect on the players who fought through the grind of what was both a frustrating and demoralizing season for the team and fans alike. While it was a tough year for many members of the Tigers’ roster, just getting out on the field was enough motivation to get through the days for some.

JaCoby Jones “just wanted to play”

JaCoby Jones had a very interesting year for the Tigers before getting hit by a pitch that effectively ended his 2019 season. Before the injury, he experienced a rollercoaster ride at the plate as he vacillated between abysmal and torrid with the stick. Even more enigmatic was how statistically poor he season was in the field, especially in comparison to last season’s numbers. But at the end of the day, Jones is simply frustrated that he did not get to play the season out.

“I was aggravated because I wanted to play and just had a lot of the season left, a lot of games that I could have done a lot of great things,” Jones said. “It just sucks I can’t be out there, and I’m missing the whole month of August, pretty much, and the whole month of September. It’s just a lot of games. I just wanted to play and was just mad about it.”

Immediately after a CT scan on August 10 revealed a fracture in his hand, Jones headed home for a few weeks to rehab at LSU and Southern Miss. Though he was “pissed off” at first, he finally settled into a healthier mindset when he realized that his role with the Tigers is still secure for now. Jones is expected to be healthy and ready for spring training, and will have the inside track on the centerfield position for the 2020 season.

Gordon Beckham’s leadership

This season has seen far more than its share of rookies and assorted greenhorns in the Tigers’ clubhouse, many of whom have never experienced the big leagues before. This puts a great deal of pressure on the team veterans to help guide the youngsters and acclimate them to how the world works in the major leagues. Gordon Beckham was one of those guys for the Tigers this year.

“I’ve had to get on some guys, honestly,” he said. “This is all a tryout for them. That’s what I keep hammering into them. You better show them. You better show them why you should be around or else you’re not going to be here. Because if you can’t get on this team, you’re not going to play on another team. I told them that. And I don’t mean it rudely. But we’re one of the worst teams, record-wise. So, you better show them.”

While Beckham hardly has any notoriety as a player and is not even a regular starter on this year’s team, he does have over a decade of experience in the league to go with his once heralded prospect status to fall back on. But whether he is playing the part of mentor, coach, joker, counselor or motivational speaker, he has grown into the leadership role quite well, and appears to embrace it.

“I’ve really enjoyed being around this group and getting to help them with the maturation process. But it’s been a tough year.”

Every team needs players like Beckham to help the younger players navigate the confusing world of Major League Baseball. Hopefully, his advice is taken to heart, and the team continues to benefit from the sage wisdom of its veteran players.

Whitaker and Trammell profiled in Sports Illustrated, 1983

The article can be found in the Sports Illustrated vault here, and you can read more about the greatest middle infield duo in baseball history over at Tigers History Project.

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