More Detroit Tigers Call-ups on the Horizon?

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | The high-profile call-ups of Jose Valverde and Bruce Rondon have created quite a buzz in Detroit. And rightly so.

Papa Grande is no stranger to Tigers fans, and his larger-than-life personality will always command attention. Rondon is intriguing for the simple fact that he throws as hard as anyone in the game -- 103 mph by some counts.

However, a lower-profile call-up or two might also have the potential to provide positive momentum for the under-performing Tigers.

It's impossible not to like Don Kelly. He works hard, shows up every day prepared to play, and has been known to flash some serious leather on occasion. But after hitting just .186 in 113 at-bats in 2012, Kelly is off to a slow start at the plate again this year. He will enter the contest April 24 with a .118 average. Given the lack of punch shown so far by the bottom part of the order, the Tigers could use a little offensive spark there.

Toledo Mud Hens outfielder Quintin Berry, also well known to Tigers fans, had hit safely in nine of his last 10 games before putting up an "O-fer" in a loss to Durham. Berry put up good numbers during that stretch: a .325 average, three doubles, a home run and four RBIs. He is also second in the International League with seven steals.

In 94 games with the big club last year, Berry hit at a .258 clip and swiped 21 bases without being caught. Both players had strong showings in spring training. Kelly apparently won out over Berry because of his versatility. But manager Jim Leyland knew at the time he was sacrificing much-needed speed and proven base-stealing skills for defensive skills -- a decision that no doubt caused him to lose more than a little sleep.

In addition to playing the outfield, Kelly has the advantage of being able to fill in at both corner infield spots. Berry is exclusively an outfielder. But given the fact that the Tigers' corner infielders play every day, and will likely continue to do so in the future, an extra infielder might not be as important as speed and a decent bat.

Kelly would need to clear waivers and be willing to play at Toledo to be available to the Tigers in the event he is needed down the road. He did so last year, but it would be hard to blame him for declining to do so this time. He would be a good insurance policy to have when rosters expand, if he is willing.

For his part, Berry, who may have thought he had nothing else to prove after last year, now knows he does.

It's also noteworthy that the Tigers have a second defensive specialist who is struggling at the plate. Not that Ramon Santiago needs to be looking over his shoulder just yet, but Danny Worth is another Mud Hen with major-league experience who's chomping at the bit for another shot.

A lifelong follower of the Detroit Tigers, Mike has covered sports, automotive, government and interfaith issues for publications and websites including "The Detroit News," Internet Auto Guide, Opposing Views, American Thinker, Examiner and A Common Word.

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