Toronto — A pair of Tigers outfielders, one a prized prospect, and another a well-known but disappointing presence in Detroit the past two seasons, were disciplined Saturday in separate incidents with Triple A Toledo manager Lloyd McClendon.
JaCoby Jones, who had a hot start on the Tigers farm following a long suspension that ended in May, was benched Saturday after not running with sufficient hustle after he hit a pop-up in the Mud Hens’ game against Louisville at Fifth Third Field.
A more serious squabble involved McClendon and the Tigers’ former everyday center fielder, Anthony Gose, who was shipped to Toledo in May after his batting average further tumbled.
Gose got into a dugout snit with McClendon and was ordered out of the game and told to go home after he allegedly cursed McClendon.
He then failed to show for Sunday’s game against Indianapolis and, with that bit of insubordination, might have signaled his time with the Tigers has ceased.
Tigers front-office officials Al Avila, David Chadd and Dave Littlefield, in concert with McClendon, will convene on Gose’s situation and are expected to decide quickly if he continues with the organization.
Jones, 24, was suspended for 50 games last year after he tested positive for substance abuse, which was explained as recreational rather than addictive.
Jones returned to work in May at Double A Erie and hit so well – .312 in 20 games with a .991 OPS – the Tigers promoted him to Toledo. He was viewed as a potential September call-up and was being considered by the front office as a probable job-contender in Detroit for the 2017 season.
He is fast, athletic, and has tremendous range in center field, as well as a fast bat, although he has been struggling with the Mud Hens, batting .214 in 33 games.
Gose’s situation is more perilous, doubly so after going AWOL on Sunday. He is batting .185 in 50 games for the Mud Hens, with a puny .521 OPS. The Tigers gambled in the autumn of 2014 that Gose, then with the Blue Jays, could be their regular center-fielder. They traded a blue-chip prospect, second baseman Devon Travis, for Gose, believing Gose, who was then 23, would evolve and become a respectable everyday hitter.
He has shown no such growth and has been surpassed on the Tigers’ organizational depth chart by Cameron Maybin, Jones, and even, perhaps, Alex Presley, 30, whom the Tigers signed Saturday to boost their outfield depth.
Presley, like Gose, is a left-handed batter and can play corner outfield posts as well as center field.
The Tigers front office is not talking publicly about Saturday’s events, believing McClendon handled the dust-ups appropriately.
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus was matter-of-fact Sunday when asked about Gose’s incident. He was not aware Jones had been pulled from Saturday’s game.
“Any time a player reacts that way to a manager is concerning,” Ausmus said, “but it’s certainly not anything that can’t be handled or gotten past.
“I think it’s the human element. No doubt, emotions are involved.”