Don Kelly's 4 year career as a Detroit Tiger likely came to an end today. Andy Dirks, who has been on the disabled list since May 31st, was activated this afternoon. To make room on the 25 man roster, Kelly was designated for assignment.
With the return of Dirks giving the Tigers another corner outfielder (joining Brennan Boesch, Quintin Berry, Delmon Young and Ryan Raburn), the emergence of Berry, the need for a right hand bat coming off the bench, and the recent trade for Omar Infante moving Ramon Santiago back to utility man status, the left hand hitting Kelly had become a man without a job.
Dirks was having a standout season, hitting .328 with an .894 OPS, when he went down with right Achilles tendinitis. Kelly was hitting only .175 with a .510 OPS, 1 home run, 7 RBI, and all of 17 at bats in the month of July.
A good field, no-hit utility man who could play all 9 positions, the high point of Kelly's years as a Tiger came in the 2011 ALDS. Kelly played the best offensive baseball of his career against the Yankees, hitting .364 in 4 games, with a home run in the series clincher.
The most memorable appearance for Kelly as a Tiger was his pitching 1/3 inning in relief when the Tigers ran out of pitchers in the 9th inning of a 16-9 loss to the Mets last season (Click here for MLB.com video). Kelly retired Scott Hairston on 5 pitches for the final out and launched a meme on BYB.
Kelly saw the move coming, but still took it hard:
Kelly choked up, fighting back emotions talking with reporters in clubhouse: "That's just the way the game is."— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) August 3, 2012
As did Jim Leyland:
Leyland said Kelly was "like a brother" to— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) August 3, 2012
#tigers players, coaches. "You won't find a better guy than Don Kelly."
The Tigers now have 10 days to either trade, release or outright Kelly to Toledo. Kelly would also have to pass through waivers in order to become a Mud Hen.
Coming off a In a 10 game injury rehab stint with the Mud Hens (hitting .216 with 2 home runs), Dirks is in the Tigers' starting lineup tonight. He will play right field and bat 6th.