Surprising Tigers breakout demoted due to imminent Andy Ibáñez return

Detroit Tigers v Minnesota Twins
Detroit Tigers v Minnesota Twins / David Berding/GettyImages

Before he was called up from the minors on April 20, Buddy Kennedy wasn't a name on most Tigers' fans radars. A fifth-round draft pick for the Diamondbacks in 2017, Kennedy was a member of three different organizations in 2023 before finally landing with the Tigers in October, after he was DFA'ed and sent through waivers by the Athletics. He'd done short stints in the majors with the Diamondbacks in 2022 and 2023 but never caught fire.

Down in Toledo before the call up, he was hitting a pretty good .288/.354/.508, but little was actually expected of him when he arrived in Detroit. He was mostly just there to fill the roster spot vacated by Andy Ibáñez, who went onto the 10-day IL on April 8 and began a rehab assignment on April 25 after a hamstring strain.

Ibáñez hit well during his rehab, going 3-9 with a double and an RBI, but was more surprising was that Kennedy was also doing pretty well in the majors. In his second game on April 21, he hit a two-run home run — just the second in his major league career — on top of an RBI sac fly.

But it was never going to last. Ibáñez was reportedly activated from his rehab assignment on Monday, and Kennedy's locker was cleared from the clubhouse.

Andy Ibáñez is expected to return to the Tigers from a rehab assignment; surprise breakout Buddy Kennedy gets the push

Before he got hurt, Ibáñez was an important piece of the Tigers' ever-shifting puzzle as a versatile middle infielder who'd also managed to hit pretty well last season, with 23 doubles and 11 runs. In seven games before he got hurt this season, he was hitting .267/.235/.267 with three RBI, but two of them were game-winning in incredibly close matches.

Kennedy's stay was always going to be temporary, and at 25 he seems destined to a farmhand's existence. However, his brief stay in Detroit still managed to impact the team and was an impressive job interview perhaps for a Matt Manning-esque role as the immediate call up in the wake of injuries to any of Detroit's infielders.