Who benefits from Detroit’s latest roster shakeup? It could be Andy Dirks and Don Kelly.
Trading Scott Sizemore opened a second-base hole for Jim Leyland that the manager intends to fill, at least short-term, with Ryan Raburn. The shift of Raburn from left field to second, which gave Detroit a lift earlier this season, opens up an outfield spot, which initially went to the rookie call-up.
Dirks, who hit two home runs in his second week in the majors, has earned a reputation coming up through the minors as a manager’s player.
Leyland likes Dirks in the second spot in the batting order, a spot of need in his batting order. The left-handed hitting Dirks can go the other way with inside and outside pitches. He’s got a short swing and makes consistent contact, he can bunt and can make productive outs.
He singled and hit a home run as the left-field starter in Game 1, a 4-3 loss, and walked and scored the first of Detroit’s two first-inning runs in the second game, also playing left and hitting second.
Kelly has been moved around by Leyland in an effort to keep his persistent offense in the lineup. He started in right in the opener and at third in the second game after spelling Brandon Inge at third a couple times early last week.
Leyland likes the way Kelly turns in a consistently good at-bat, and he’s also shown an ability to drop down a bunt for a single on occasion. Kelly shows gap power, can move runners, works the count and is adept at going the other way (left field). He hasn’t shown the ability to play every day but he does play well for short bursts.
Kelly shows himself to be an upgrade over a slumping player and he brings a little energy to the field.
They get a chance to provide some steadiness to a sporadic Tigers offense. What they do with the opportunity is up to them.
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