Detroit — JaCoby Jones sat talking with Daniel Norris on Friday and he had what looked like a cast on his left wrist.
"It's just ice," he said, laughing when a worried-looking reporter asked about it. "I think I got lucky."
He did not.
Jones found out during the Tigers' 7-0 loss to the Royals Saturday that his season was over. His left wrist was broken when it was hit by a fastball thrown by Royals pitcher Jorge Lopez on Friday night.
"He's got a cast on," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "There's a fracture in his wrist and he's going to be out six weeks, basically the rest of the season. He's frustrated. Really disappointed."
When the pain persisted into Saturday, the Tigers sent him for a CTscan. The scan discovered the deep fracture.
"I'm glad we had it checked out," Gardenhire said. "It's an internal fracture inside the bone. Had to have the scan to find it. It's just really unfortunate."
Jones, the Tigers center fielder, was one of the silver linings in this brutal season. On May 23, he was hitting .173. He adjusted his set-up at the plate, leaving the bat on his shoulder a little longer to calm his hands.
It was one of many swing and mechanical adjustments he'd made the last two years, but this one stuck. Over the next 36 games, he hit .320 with a .586 slugging and a .960 OPS.
He'd cooled off lately, but was still hitting .235 with 11 home runs, 26 RBIs and 39 runs scored.
"I feel for him a lot," said catcher Jake Rogers. "We just want him to get better and get back on the field. He's a great player and good to have out there."
Jones was not available after the game.
Gardenhire said Ronny Rodriguez will be recalled from Triple-A Toledo to fill his roster spot. Most likely Victor Reyes will get the bulk of the playing time in center field. Niko Goodrum and Harold Castro will also play out there.
Eventually, though, perhaps as soon as the end of August, prospect Daz Cameron, part of the Tigers return in the Justin Verlander trade, will likely get some extended playing time in center.
The news on Jones was like rubbing salt in an already exposed wound. The Tigers, after winning two straight, didn't play a very crisp baseball game on Saturday
They did make a few highlight-worthy defensive plays Saturday.
Dawel Lugo has been putting on a show at third base in this series. Rogers saved a run by making like Jimmy Howard behind the plate and blocking a ball with a runner at third. Travis Demeritte saved another run with a long running catch into the cutout in right-center field.
But it was a couple of bad defensive plays that sealed their fate.
Lefty Gregory Soto, who relieved starter Spencer Turnbull after a solid six innings, got a one-hop grounder hit right to his glove with two outs and two on in the seventh. The ball bounced out of his glove. He scrambled to it and still had plenty of time to get catcher Meibrys Viloria at first.
But he rushed it and fired a 95-mph bullet past first baseman Brandon Dixon and down the right field line. Two runs scored, doubling the Royals lead.
"The ball hit off his glove and he just panicked," Gardenhire said. "He long-armed it and tried to throw a rocket when you don't really need to. We always tell them just to make a crow-hop and an easy throw.
"But he panicked and let her fly."
The other misplay not only cost two more runs -- it nearly cost them Reyes.
With two on and two outs in the top of the ninth, Whit Merrifield blooped a two-run double in between Reyes, Demeritte and second baseman Goodrum. Reyes and Goodrum tripped each other up and Demeritte very nearly made another incredible catch.
"Reyes got it in the shin," Gardenhire said. "Everyone was trying to make a play and no one was able to take charge. It just fell in the right spot. You see three people charge like that, we were lucky no one was hurt."
Reyes, who initially broke back on the ball, had his right leg wrapped after the game, though he said it was just a bruise.
"It was the type of play where the ball just fell in between three players," Reyes said through translator Carlos Guillen. "All of us ran to catch the ball. Unfortunately it fell between us."
Maybe it wouldn’t have mattered. The Tigers' hitters were dominated by Royals lefty Mike Montgomery, who, incidentally, came in with one of the worst hard-hit rates (49 percent) and exit velocities on balls put in play against him (90.6) in baseball.
The former World Series hero for the Cubs dispatched the first 12 batters he faced before giving up a lead-off single to Brandon Dixon in the fifth. Harmless singles by Castro, Reyes and Miguel Cabrera were all he allowed through seven innings, while striking out a career-high 12.
This was the 11th time this season the Tigers have been shutout. That is second most in the Major Leagues.