KANSAS CITY -- The Quintin Berry story with the Tigers will always start with how he was a Minor League free agent with just four games above Double-A ball at this point last year. It should also note that just over two weeks ago, he was buried on Detroit's bench, relegated to defensive replacement and pinch-runner.
Now, he's in position to serve as a starting outfielder in postseason games if the Tigers can clinch an American League Central title. It's a second chance he has valued greatly.
"It feels good to just be thought of in a situation that I can help," Berry said, "and that I can be out there consistently and try to do something to help this team win. It means a lot to me that the coaching staff thinks highly enough of me to put me in there every day. I try to do what I can with it and keep working hard."
Manager Jim Leyland said Berry has handled the second chance OK, noting he has come up with a few big hits. Where Leyland really praised Berry, though, was his defense, particularly over the weekend in Minnesota, where he made two day-game starts in left field.
"I thought quietly, Berry played a heckuva left field in Minnesota under some tough conditions -- sun, slicing balls, balls that were deep. I thought he did one heckuva job," Leyland said. "I'm giving the kid credit. I thought he did a wonderful job. That kind of went unnoticed."
Berry did so at a position he had rarely played previously in his pro career. His speed has always led him to center field, and his first shot at big league playing time came there while Austin Jackson was injured from mid-May into June. The more Berry plays there, though, the more he learns.
"Luckily, those balls that were hit at me had that tail, so they were able to get out of the sun at the last minute," Berry said.
Berry rarely played anywhere in August and early September, until Brennan Boesch's slump prompted Leyland to start Berry against right-handed hitters.
"Either way, it didn't matter, because I felt like I could help in any situation," Berry said. "Even the days when I wouldn't play, I'd come in to pinch-run or help out defensively. That's fine with me. As long as I'm part of the team, helping us win, to be here for the whole ride, that's all I want to do."