Don Kelly probably figured he would have a long Spring Training competing for a spot, but he got some refreshing news the other day when Jim Leyland guaranteed him a spot on the squad when the team heads north in a few weeks:
"Kelly’s a part of it," Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Tuesday. "He’s going to be on this team."
If you remember, Kelly edged out Clete Thomas for the final roster spot last spring and, following a season in which he hit a paltry .246/.272/.646 (although he had nine dingers in 251 plate appearances), it may have looked to some like it might be a similar situation this year.
Obviously, Leyland isn't bringing Kelly aboard for his bat, though (or because he's also a Pittsburgh native). Kelly, 31, is Detroit's most versatile player, capable of playing up to six positions fairly well. Kelly will be used mostly as a defensive replacement in the outfield, but could see time at third or first, too, if need be. The fact that he's hitting .316/.364/.732 thus far this spring is just a nice perk to what he already brings to the table.