Leyland goes with Kelly over slumping Dirks

Leyland goes with Kelly over slumping Dirks

Leyland goes with Kelly over slumping Dirks

BOSTON -- Don Kelly made just 11 starts in left field during the regular season. Between Andy Dirks as a left-handed bat and Matt Tuiasosopo from the right side, there weren't many other starts to go around.

With Sunday night's start in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series against the Red Sox, however, Kelly has started three of Detroit's seven games this postseason in left. That's two more than Dirks, who hasn't started since the AL Division Series opener against Bartolo Colon.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland made clear Sunday's what's behind the shift.

"Donnie Kelly probably wouldn't be playing in left field tonight if Andy Dirks was swinging good," Leyland said Sunday.

Those struggles go back before this postseason. Dirks ended the regular season in a 2-for-18 slump after hitting a three-run homer Sept. 21, then went 0-for-3 in the ALDS opener against Colon, a pitcher he had previously hit well in his career.

Dirks entered Game 4 of the ALDS as a defensive replacement, walking and scoring twice.

The current stretch doesn't necessarily banish Dirks to the bench for the rest of the postseason. Leyland hinted he could try to get him a start at some point and give him a chance to jump-start his offense.

"There's no secrets," Leyland said. "You just decide if you want to give Dirks his shot at some point."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.