Without actually announcing the final bench spots, the Detroit Tigers pretty much announced who would get the final bench spots. Quintin Berry was informed today that he would begin the season in the minor leagues.
Despite the asset of his speed, the Tigers optioned outfielder Quintin Berry to Triple A Toledo on Wednesday morning.
With the move, the Tigers got down to 28 players in camp – three over the limit for their Monday opener in Minnesota.
Berry does have outstanding speed, and would make for a terrific pinch runner, but that’s really all he brings to the table. He burst onto the scene last year in late May – performing fabulously while Austin Jackson was injured – but struggled mightily down the stretch. His final batting line wasn’t good, but it also wasn’t completely terrible for a speed guy (.258/.330/.354), but in July, August, and September those numbers fell to .224/.285/.312. After his first hot month, he really didn’t hit a lick, and speed doesn’t play if you can’t reach base.
With the outfield set, Berry would have been relegated to pinch-running duty. That’s a spot where he could have brought real value (say, running for Victor Martinez in the eighth or ninth inning), but it’s not a spot you need filled every day (or even most days).
All indications are that Don Kelly will get the spot. He’s not the dynamic runner that Berry is, but he could also run for V-Mart and be a big improvement. Kelly also brings as-good-or-better outfield defensive ability, a similarly-abled bat, and the ability to play some infield as well.
I think trying to figure out who will provide more wins between the two would be a lot like splitting the tiniest of hairs – you could understand them going either way – but flexibility with bench position players is a nice luxury to have, and it’s Kelly that gives them that.