Former closer Jones throws out first pitch

Former closer Jones throws out first pitch

Former closer Jones throws out first pitch
DETROIT -- Todd Jones remembers having the confidence while mired in a jam like Tigers closer Jose Valverde was on Monday to truly believe he'd get out of it. Now that Jones is a fan instead of a closer, as he was for a club-record 235 saves from 1997-2001 and 2006-08, he knows what it's like to be on the other side.

It's not a competitive rush anymore.

"I think it's more like a dry-heave situation," Jones said before Game 4 of the American League Division Series on Tuesday night. "It's so funny, when you're out there, and you feel like you have a little bit of control, you feel like you're OK. You have bases to work with. Robinson Cano is really not that hot. I can get him out.

"But when you're watching [Valverde] on TV, you feel for the guy. You just want to see him make pitches and get outs. It's a gut-wrenching part of it, being on this side of it. Because as a player, I never really realized how important it was to everybody. For us, we're just trying to go out there and get outs."

Still, when he took the field for the ceremonial first pitch, Jones couldn't resist putting himself in the Big Potato's shoes, or at least his jersey. Wearing Valverde's No. 46, Jones did a Valverde-like ritual on the mound, fired a breaking ball to Brandon Inge behind the plate, then celebrated.

It was a reminder of Jones' sense of humor, which had him wearing a wig while running around the tarp-covered basepaths one night during his playing days -- doing his impression of Magglio Ordonez's walk-off home run that won the 2006 ALCS.

When asked to compare his pitching style to Valverde's, though, Jones said there wasn't much to it.

"I think we're both right-handed," Jones said, "but I think after that, the comparisons kind of go away."