In news that should make Detroit Tigers fans smile, long-time nice guy Don Kelly is back with the team.
The Detroit Tigers made the announcement Saturday morning.
Kelly will not be joining the team on the field, but he will be serving as a scout and an assistant in player development.
According to Evan Woodbery with MLive, Kelly was spotted on the field with the team on Saturday morning.
The long-time utility player was a member of the Tigers from 2009-2014. He spent his last two season playing with the Miami Marlins. He only played in 15 games with the Marlins; the team outrighted him on August 1 according to Jeff Todd with MLB Trade Rumors.
Success with the Tigers
During Kelly’s tenure with the Tigers, he saw time in 545 games and had a slash line of .234/.297/.340 with an OPS of .637. He was never a power hitter, but hit 23 home runs. His biggest honor was in 2014 when he earned the Heart and Hustle Award from the MLB Players Alumni Association (MLBPAA). Each year, one player from each team is given this award.
Kelly played every position when he was with the Tigers. He even pitched against one batter in 2011 in a game against the New York Mets. He also caught for six innings in that same season.
Kelly also had a memorable moment in the second game of the 2012 ALDS against the Oakland Athletics. The teams were tied at 4 and the bases were loaded in the bottom of the 9th. Kelly hit a sac fly that scored Omar Infante and ended the game.
Even though Kelly was a utility player, he did grow to be a fan favorite. But, many did question why he was played so often, when there were better players on the roster. No matter the mistakes that he might have made, Kelly always looked like he was trying his hardest – and there is something endearing about that.
Second Home in Detroit
When Kelly left Detroit for Miami, he spoke fondly of his time as a Tiger. In an article from George Sipple with the the Detroit Free Press, Kelly said about Detroit: “You’re there for so long and the success that we had, the relationships that you build, it is, it’s going to be tough.” He also shared how he felt that Detroit was “like a second home.”
As a utility player, he knows what it takes to be successful everywhere in the game. His experience should help him as a scout and in player development. Hopefully, players will find that kindness pays off, too.
One Nice Guy
In 2014, I took my son to a game at US Cellular Field to watch the Tigers play the White Sox. When we arrived, the Tigers were taking batting practice. Kelly was waiting his turn and my son asked him for an autograph. Kelly turned to my son and told him to wait until after he took his swings. Once he was finished, he walked right over and signed for my son. This was typical behavior from Kelly, he was so kind to fellow players and to fans.
It is safe to say that his new position with the Tigers is not just due to his ability on the field, but to his positive attitude while playing the game. Welcome back, Donny Kelly Baby!