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Jones coaching up his talented Tigers arms

DETROIT -- Tigers pitchers entered Saturday night's game against the Royals leading the Majors with 1,258 strikeouts and ranked third in the American League in both ERA (3.68) and WHIP (1.25). Along with some talented arms, another reason for the staff's success is pitching coach Jeff Jones.

While a pitching coach is only as good as the talent around him, Jones' job depends on getting the most out of talent. Part of that includes reading emotions.

"He's done a terrific job, and he's got a good rapport with the pitchers," manager Jim Leyland said. "He knows how to step on them a little bit when he needs to and he knows how to coddle them when they are supposed to be coddled. That's all a part of the coaching profession."

Some pitching coaches are better with mechanics over game plans against hitters or vice versa, Leyland says Jones is strong in both areas. Opposing hitters only have a .376 slugging percentage against, the lowest mark among AL clubs.

Jones has been overseeing a staff that's been on an upward trajectory, and he has been effective with helping starters make in-game adjustments.

"He's very good at picking out flaws," Leyland said. "I know something's not right, but I can't tell where the ball was going, but he normally is right on the money.

"He does a terrific job. He's like a mother hen to them; he protects them. He's a nice buffer between me and the pitchers, which is very important. He's very supportive of me and my decisions. He's really done a whale of a job, to be honest with you."

Bobby Nightengale is an associate reporter for
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