DETROIT -- The Tigers will have to get through the stretch run without their defensive standout in center field. JaCoby Jones is expected to miss the rest of the season after being diagnosed with a fractured left wrist.
Jones initially was diagnosed with a left wrist contusion after being hit by a 95-mph fastball from Royals right-hander Jorge Lopez on Thursday. Initial X-rays were negative, but the club sent Jones for a CT scan to make sure there was no underlying damage.
“He definitely has a fracture in his wrist,” manager Ron Gardenhire said following Saturday night's 7-0 loss at Comerica Park. “It’s going to be six weeks, so basically it’s the rest of the season. He’s pretty disappointed and really frustrated, but I’m glad we went ahead and checked it out. It’s kind of an internal fracture, inside the bone. We had to get a CT scan to find it.”
Thus ends what had been a season of progress at the plate for the 27-year-old Jones, whose .740 OPS was 110 points above last season. He hit just .173 (19-for-110) over his first 36 games before an adjustment in his batting stance allowed him to get his bat into the zone quicker and react better to pitches.
Jones batted .320 with a .960 OPS over his next 36 games, raising his average over .250 for the season. The average fell over the last two weeks to .235, but his defense remained constant, including two highlight-reel grabs this season -- reaching over the fence to take back home runs.
With Jones out, center field is likely to become a timeshare between Victor Reyes, who has been filling in with Jones out the last couple of games, and super-utility player Harold Castro, who has been a bright spot in his first extended big league stint. Though Reyes has the athleticism to play the position, his instincts and communication are works in progress, evidenced in part by a collision with second baseman Niko Goodrum and near-collision with right fielder Travis Demeritte on a two-run double in shallow right-center field on Saturday night.