Martinez leaves with bruised shoulder, Kelly catches

Tigers catcher Victor Martinez left Saturday night’s rain-delayed game against the Giants after taking a pitch off his right shoulder, leading to utilityman Don Kelly’s first career appearance behind the plate.

Martinez left with a bruised right shoulder after being hit by a pitch from Brayan Villarreal, who entered the game in the third inning after a 2-hour, 36-minute rain delay. Martinez finished the inning after head athletic trainer Kevin Rand attended to him, but Kelly came out of the dugout with catching gear on for the top of the fourth inning.

It was the realization of a insurance plan the Tigers had planned back in Spring Training, but under different circumstances. By working Kelly at catcher, the plan went, the Tigers wouldn’t have to forfeit the designated hitter spot on days when Alex Avila caught and Martinez started at DH.

In Saturday’s case, though, Martinez wasn’t the DH, and Avila was available off the bench. With the Tigers down, 10-0, though, manager Jim Leyland used the opportunity to get Kelly some game time.

Kelly’s first career appearance at catcher came three days after he pitched in Detroit’s 16-9 loss to the Mets. He has now played every position at some point in his Major League career.

Just 55 other players since 1901 have pitched and caught in the same season, according to research on baseball-reference.com. The most recent was Kevin Cash, who did it with the Astros last season.

Add in Kelly’s other appearances this year in all three outfield spots, plus first and third base, and he’s just the eighth player in that time frame to play all those spots in one year. Former Tiger Shane Halter and then-Ranger Scott Sheldon both did it in 2000, doing so while playing all nine positions in a game.

1 Comment

`Congrats to Kelly, who really has been a blessing to this Tigers team. He’s stepped in and done his job where ever they put him. A player like that has a lot of value. I hope the next Tigers manager knows his value, as I’m sure Leylands days in Detroit are now being counted…
–Mike
‘Minoring In Baseball’

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