Tigers announce spring roster, confirm Kelly deal
The Tigers announced their spring training invites on Wednesday, and it’s a very familiar list of names. Most of them are prospects within the organization. Most of the minor-league deals and camp invites had already been announced or otherwise confirmed. It was such a familar list that it was easy to look past Don Kelly’s name.
Yes, Don Kelly is back. The well-liked utilityman and left-handed hitter has agreed to a minor-league deal with a non-roster invite to camp.
When last we saw Kelly, Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski was pulling him aside after the World Series and letting him know that they wouldn’t have a spot on the 4o-man roster for him. The Tigers never closed the door on bringing him back, but Kelly was free to look for a big-league deal somewhere else.
Three months later, he’s back. Kelly said he was in talks with another club he was seriously considering, also a potential contender, but couldn’t pass up the chance to return.
“At the end of the day, when you look at it, Detroit, we have a chance to go back to the World Series and win it,” Kelly said. “And to have the chance to be a part of it is huge. … When you play in the role that I’m going to be in, you want to be on a team that wins. You want to play in the big leagues, don’t get me wrong, but ultimately you want to win.”
The deal includes an opt-out clause that allows Kelly to ask for his release if he’s not on the 25-man roster out of spring training. It doesn’t mean the big leagues or bust, but it gives him options if there’s no fit in Detroit but an opportunity opens up somewhere else.
His fit on the 25-man roster in Detroit could be iffy; the Tigers are still looking at a right-handed bat to mix into left field with Andy Dirks. Still, having somebody in the organization who can play just about every position can’t be a bad thing. With Miguel Cabrera set to miss time in March to play for Team Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic, Kelly could get some spring starts at third base along with fellow invite Matt Tuiasosopo.
Here’s the full list of non-roster invites:
- Right-handed pitchers: Trevor Bell, Shawn Hill, Michael Morrison
- Left-handed pitchers: Jose Alvarez, Kenny Faulk, Ryan Robowski
- Catchers: Curt Casali, Brad Davis, James McCann
- Infielders: Argenis Diaz, Eugenio Suarez
- Outfielders: Tyler Collins, Daniel Fields
- Infielder/outfielders: Nick Castellanos, Don Kelly, Kevin Russo, Matt Tuiasosopo
The inclusion of Fields and Collins is kind of interesting. Both made an impression in some at-bats last spring when the Tigers needed extra players. Fields made it to Double-A Erie last summer and could benefit from a camp with the big leaguers. Collins’ season at Class A Lakeland caught the eye of Tigers officials, batting .290 with 35 doubles, seven homers and 66 RBIs along with 20 steals out of 23 attempts.