.173-hitting Don Kelly is playing fist base and batting sixth for the Tigers on Tuesday night, and manager Jim Leyland is way optimistic:
“I’m hoping for Donnie Kelly to maybe get one hit and one RBI,” Leyland said. “If he does that, I’ll be thrilled.”
Of course, it would be bucking the odds a bit. Kelly has started 159 games as a big leaguer and had a hit and an RBI in 39 of them, which works out to 24.5 percent of the time.
Tonight’s start will be Kelly’s first since he rejoined the Tigers over the weekend. After three years of continuous service, he was finally dropped from Detroit’s roster last month after hitting .173/.265/.240 with one homer and seven RBI in 104 at-bats this year. He’s a lifetime .230/.282/.345 hitter.
Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.
Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.
Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.