Kelly making plays in field look easy

Kelly making plays in field look easy

DETROIT -- Don Kelly moved from a regular shortstop job in the Minor Leagues to a jack-of-all-trades role a while ago. Still, plays like he has made the past two games aren't all that much easier nowadays.

Though the Tigers ended up losing Wednesday's nightcap, 8-0, to the Yankees, Kelly's diving stop down the third-base line to rob Alex Rodriguez of a potential extra-base hit and RBI arguably kept them in the game a little longer. His dive to his right, then strong-armed throw from his knees looked like a play Brandon Inge would make.

Inge, however, is a regular third baseman. Kelly was making just his fourth start there this season.

It's part of the job of being a utility player. But it's a job that requires a good amount of fielding work during batting practice to keep himself ready.

"It's not about range, basically," Kelly said Thursday morning. "I think it's more about understanding you go front to back more than you go side to side. You can't create your own hop. You have to catch what you're given at third base. Because at short, you get a lot more routine ground balls, where you can get yourself in a position to get a good hop. It's just trying to create the game speed during BP to be ready when you get in there."

Hours later, Kelly was several feet back, playing left field in Thursday's series finale, when he came up with another big stop. He went all the way to the warning track to run down Randy Winn's fly ball in the eighth inning, crashing against the fence in the process.

It's a play Tigers outfielders have practiced -- not the crash so much as turning around and regaining sight of the ball.

"I knew I was on the track," Kelly said. "I didn't really know exactly where the fence was. It worked out good. I was able to slide and catch the ball and not really run into the fence."

For a team with currently just three reserve position players, Kelly is vital. When he isn't starting, he's not just the only reserve who can play the outfield, he's a potential entry at first, second and third base, plus an emergency shortstop or catcher.

And as he has shown lately, he's a potential highlight play at several positions.

"It really doesn't matter, as long as you get the out," he said.