Tigers part ways with struggling Jones
Joyce called up from Toledo as Detroit seeks own turnaround
DETROIT -- The Tigers knew Jacque Jones' history of slow starts when they traded for him last fall, and they were willing to take the risk. They couldn't anticipate that most of the lineup would be struggling alongside him.
If Jones heats up for another second-half turnaround, it'll be with another club. Detroit designated him for assignment on Monday, ending his Tigers tenure after little more than a month.
The Tigers brought in Jones last November from the Cubs in exchange for utilityman Omar Infante, who was later dealt to Atlanta. The goal for the Tigers was to add a left-handed bat who could help balance out a predominantly right-handed hitting lineup. However, Jones got off to a slow start, similar to last season in Chicago.
Jones ended the weekend with a .165 average, one home run and five RBIs in 24 games. He was mired in a 1-for-29 slump since April 23 that included an 0-for-10 performance over the weekend at Minnesota, where he began his big-league career.
Plus, the power drop that began last season in Chicago followed him into the American League this season. He had just three extra-base hits -- a double, triple and home run, all over a two-day stretch April 22-23 against Texas.
Though Jones atoned for last year's slow start by hitting better than .300 over the season's second half, the Tigers couldn't wait for that to happen again. Detroit headed into Monday with a 14-18 record, one game ahead of the worst in the American League. However, they were also three games out of first place in the AL Central.
"Jacque Jones is not the reason that we're four games under .500," manager Jim Leyland said. "Had he gotten off to a bad start? Yes, he had. But that is totally unfair [to blame him for the team's struggles]. He's been nothing but a class individual. Sometimes your moves just fit this way. It could've been somebody else. It might have been."
Essentially, they swapped one left-handed hitter for another. To take Jones' place on the roster, the Tigers purchased the contract of Matt Joyce from Triple-A Toledo, where he was hitting .299 with six doubles, five home runs and 21 RBIs. He headed into Detroit batting .389 (14-for-36) over his last 10 games.
"Sometimes you say, 'Should we just sit back and let it keep happening, or should we do something to see if we can spur it?'" president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "And this is trying to do something to spur it. Hopefully, it will."
This was also something that was decided in relatively short order. Leyland said he had talked with Jones and Marcus Thames about potential changes in the lineup before the decision was made to drop Jones.
Though Leyland promised "drastic" changes to reporters over the weekend at Minnesota, he said then that there would be no roster changes involved.
"This was told to me today when I came in," Leyland said. "Dave came down, discussed it a little bit, and made the move. This move was not made yesterday."
Technically, the Tigers have 10 days to either trade or release Jones, but that's expected to be a formality. He'll likely become a free agent available to sign with any team.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.