Friendship goals! Jones 'couldn't miss' debut

August 23rd, 2020

CLEVELAND -- No fans are permitted in the stands of Progressive Field during the 2020 season, but that didn’t stop Indians top prospect from supporting his friend in his Major League debut.

As 23-year-old struck out Tigers superstar Miguel Cabrera and walked off the field after his first big league inning, Jones posted a video of his friend from the roof of the parking garage across the street. McKenzie ended up striking out 10 over six innings of one-run ball to pick up the win in Cleveland's 6-1 victory.

“[I] couldn’t miss the debut,” Jones told via text.

Players from the Tribe's alternate site are technically not permitted to enter Progressive Field unless they are officially added to the active roster. Whether an exception could have been made for Jones to watch his friend from a socially-distanced area of the ballpark remains unknown, as the young third baseman didn't want to take any chances and did not ask the Indians for any special admission.

“I didn’t,” McKenzie said, when asked if he knew Jones would be showing up to watch. “There was a lot of hidden support, and I think it definitely showed out there. I felt very comfortable out there.”

McKenzie was selected in the first round of the 2015 MLB Draft, while Jones was taken in the second round the following year. The two have come up through the Tribe’s system together over the past few years and have spent the last seven weeks at the Indians’ alternate training site in Lake County, Ohio.

Jones kept his bird’s-eye view even after the sun started to set in Cleveland, leaning against the ledge on the roof of the parking garage about half of the height of the Tribe’s big screen behind the bleachers, just beyond the left-field foul pole.

“I think, one, it shows the great character of the guys the Indians have in general,” McKenzie said. “Nolan’s a really good friend of mine and he didn’t have to do that, but he did. And I’m gonna try to be there for his, because I’m gonna feel bad if I’m not. He wasn’t even allowed in the stadium and he was watching.”