Break glass in case of emergency?
The Detroit Tigers broke that glass Saturday night, as they encountered an emergency scenario with their catching situation. Victor Martinez suffered a bruised right shoulder after taking a pitch there from Brayan Villarreal in the third inning. Martinez was able to finish the inning, but when the Tigers took the field in the fourth, Don Kelly was wearing the catching gear behind the plate.
Why not just put Alex Avila in? The Tigers were already down 10-0 to the San Francisco Giants and the game was running late after a nearly three-hour rain delay. With a day game to be played on Sunday, Avila had to stay fresh. Besides, this was an opportunity for Jim Leyland to give his emergency catcher an opportunity.
"I've been through this before in my career, and that's when guys get hurt. When you get in fiascos like this, somebody gets hurt. Not that I wanted Donnie to get hurt, but I just didn't want to take a chance with Alex."
Kelly ended up catching six innings in the Tigers' 15-3 loss to the Giants. He went 0-for-3 at the plate, but given the circumstances he had to deal with in helping out his team, I think that's one hitless night the Tigers will accept.
"I never caught in high school or college or anything," Kelly said. "I caught a couple of simulated innings in Spring Training this year, but that was the first time in a real game."
The appearance at catcher came three days after Kelly pitched in Detroit's 16-9 loss to the Mets on Wednesday. That sent MLB.com's Jason Beck to consult Baseball-Reference, where he found that 55 players have appeared at pitcher and catcher in the same season since 1901. Kevin Cash did it for the Houston Astros last season.