In what has been a long road back, the Detroit Tigers’ Andy Dirks has finally returned from a hamstring injury, with the team announcing he is being reinstated from the disabled list, designating Don Kelly for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.
Dirks was a spark plug for the Detroit offense since hitting the shelf after he had one pinch-hit at bat on May 30 against the Boston Red Sox. Before that, he hit .328 for the Tigers, filling the void in the second spot in the batting order many expected Brennan Boesch to fulfill. Not only was he hitting at a high clip, but he was productive with 11 home runs and 16 RBIs in 134 at-bats. Dirks will return to the lineup tonight in the series opener against the Cleveland Indians, hitting sixth and playing in right field.
Meanwhile, it is a dark day for @FakeJimLeyland on Twitter as his favorite player, Don Kelly or Donnie Baseball as some may know him, was designated for assignment. Kelly, a player who embodies the term “super-utility player,” played every position on the field including pitcher for the Tigers during his time with the big club. While he was somewhat productive as a defensive replacement or pinch-hitter for Detroit last year, he was wildly unproductive this year, failing to be able to come through in meaningful at bats. He became expendable with the emergence of Quintin Berry as an outfielder and with the Tigers trading for Omar Infante at second base, pushing Santiago into the backup infielder role.
Many may ask why Kelly was designated for assignment instead of Ryan Raburn, the often booed bench player. While Kelly may be able to play more positions than Raburn, Kelly has a left handed bat, the same as Dirks. Detroit already has a lefty heavy lineup and have been looking for a right handed hitter. As of right now, their best shot at getting one may be Raburn returning to form.
Kelly has a good shot at making it through waivers, if only because of his offense, but it would not be a shock if a team did claim him, since he can play so many different positions. If he does clear waivers, he can either accept an assignment to AAA Toledo, be traded or he can be outrighted and released from the Detroit organization.
Dirks marks the last major player to start the season with the Tigers to return from the disabled list, with the exception of Victor Martinez who was lost in the offseason. The return of Dirks gives the Tigers another bat for their lineup and hopefully some more consistency, which may explain why the Tigers chose to stand pat at the trade deadline on July 31. Even though Dirks isn’t the right handed bat they were looking for, he gives them another young solid defensive player who can hit for power and has some speed.