VIERA, Fla. -- While the Tigers headed into the next-to-last week of camp Monday with a trek across the state to face the Nationals, Quintin Berry was back in Lakeland receiving treatment on his left knee for a recurrence of patellar tendinitis.
It's the same condition that sidelined him for nearly two weeks earlier this spring. If it's more than a minor recurrence, it could put his chances at making the Opening Day roster in serious jeopardy.
Berry played one inning as a substitution Sunday, also against the Nationals, but left after drawing a walk and scoring. Berry was originally on Monday's travel roster and likely would've started in center field with Austin Jackson not on the trip. Instead, Don Kelly started in center.
Berry's tendinitis is somewhat rare, manager Jim Leyland tried to explain, because it's higher up in the knee than where patellar tendinitis is normally found. What that means for treatment wasn't immediately clear, but Berry played for about a week before it became an issue again.
Berry is currently locked in a roster battle for a spot on the Tigers' bench, a role that became more complicated by Rule 5 Draft pick Jeff Kobernus' emergence as a potential right-handed hitter to mix into left field as well as a late-inning pinch-runner.
It's difficult to envision Berry and Kobernus both making the team. It's tougher to imagine Berry making the Opening Day roster if his knee is in question going into the season.
Kelly has started at third and first base this spring and also has played the corner outfield spots, but the start in center field seemingly aids his case to regain his roster spot as a super-utility player. The Tigers went with Kelly at center and Andy Dirks in left rather than Dirks in center and another left-field candidate against right-hander Jordan Zimmermann on Monday.
The Tigers have about a week left to evaluate Kelly, who has an opt-out clause in his Minor League contract that allows him to ask for his release if he doesn't make the Major League roster out of camp. As part of that clause, the Tigers would notify him a few days before camp breaks if they want him to consider waiving the opt-out clause and accept a Minor League assignment to start the year.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.