Berry serving as sparkplug in Tigers' lineup

Berry serving as sparkplug in Tigers' lineup

Berry serving as sparkplug in Tigers' lineup
CLEVELAND -- Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder have lived up to the expectations of being one of baseball's best hitting duos.

For them to drive in so many runs, however, they need guys on base to send home. Austin Jackson has excelled in the leadoff spot, and now rookie Quintin Berry has delivered out of the No. 2 hole.

"Quintin Berry has been a big help for us," manager Jim Leyland said. "He's ignited us."

Berry, batting .289 with a .373 on-base percentage and 15 stolen bases, joined the team in late May. He immediately produced out of the leadoff spot while Jackson was on the disabled list. Now he has settled into the order behind Jackson and before the RBI machines, Cabrera and Fielder. As of Thursday, Cabrera leads the Major Leagues with 82 RBIs; Fielder is tied for eighth with 69.

"All Berry has to do is stay within himself and not try to be one of the big guys," Leyland said. "Be the catalyst. Take what's there, slap the ball around, get on the bases for the big guys. He's been so good 95 percent of the time. The 5 percent of the time he hasn't been good, he's been trying to do too much."

Berry's ascent has come as a bit of a surprise. In his first year with the organization, he hit .270 for Triple-A Toledo before his promotion to Detroit. He has certainly impressed his skipper.

"If somebody would have told me that Quintin Berry would be in the big leagues by May or June, I would have said somebody is hurt," Leyland said. "I'm not going to say, 'Oh yeah, I knew all about him when he was down there and I really liked him in Spring Training.' I didn't even see much of him in Spring Training."