Don Kelly has his place on the Tigers' 25-man roster all but sewn up. Really, he just has to stay healthy for the next six weeks, and there's no reason to believe he won't. Sure, it might seem a bit funny to think that the player who is essentially the team's 25th man has it relatively easy. But remember: roster composition is about putting the best baseball team together, not the best fantasy team. (Or maybe Kelly just knows how to get duty-free smokes for his manager. Who's to say?)
Three main theories for why Kelly's spot on the roster is so safe.
- He has the flexibility to play both infield and outfield defense at an above-average level and will be getting work in as the emergency catcher. That gives the manager a nice amount of flexibility and a secure feeling.
- He has no options remaining, while other competitors for the roster have some. This was put forth by James Schmehl on Twitter Tuesday. I don't know that the threat of losing Kelly forever is a big worry, but this could play into it some.
- Jim Leyland loves him. (This one from Paul Wezner of Tiger Town on Twitter). This theory isn't bad either, really. Some managers and team executives just like to have "their" guys around and Kelly certainly seems like one of Leyland's guys.