Detroit Tigers reinstate CF JaCoby Jones to replace Mikie Mahtook on roster

Jones returns from injury rehab assignment

Detroit Tigers OF JaCoby Jones (Leon Halip/Getty Images)

DETROIT - The Detroit Tigers reinstated center fielder JaCoby Jones from a rehab assignment to replace Mikie Mahtook on the 25-man roster, the team announced Thursday.

Off to a surprise 8-4 start and atop the American League Central standings, the Tigers will now add the best defensive outfielder in baseball to a unit that's struggled early in the season.

Christin Stewart and Nicholas Castellanos are in the lineup every day for their bats, but corner outfield defense is a weakness for the Tigers. Mahtook and utility man Niko Goodrum tried to shore up center field in Jones' absence, but they are average at best at the position.

Jones was the No. 1 defensive outfielder in baseball last season. He led the league in outfield defensive runs saved with the top range rating and above-average arm strength, according to FanGraphs.

The knock on Jones is his offense, but he literally can't do worse than the 0-23 mark posted by Mahtook in seven games. Mahtook drew two walks and struck out 11 times, posting a .080 OPS, the worst among any MLB player with at least 25 plate appearances.

Jones showed some positive offensive signs as a full-time player last season, hitting 11 home runs and 22 doubles. He hits the ball extremely hard, but he doesn't hit it often enough. He struck out 142 times in 429 at-bats, a number that will need to improve if he hopes to be a serviceable MLB hitter.

Jones also stole 13 bases in 18 attempts, so he helps the Tigers in a number of ways when he's in the lineup.

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