With each day that passes, Detroit Tigers outfielder Andy Dirks is seemingly getting closer to his 2014 debut, which should come in less than a month’s time now. The issue of whose place he will take on the 25-man roster has become a hot topic among Tigers fans. Although there was a time when J.D. Martinez would have been the obvious odd man out, it appears that he has now all but secured his job with the Tigers as he is suddenly hitting .300/.333/.570 with six homers and 22 RBIs.
Therefore, on the surface, the only option that the Tigers appear to have is to part ways with utility man Don Kelly — unless they decide they only want to carry 11 pitchers. But what about Andrew Romine; could the Tigers pull off a shocker and send him packing? Although it is very, very unlikely, one could make a viable case that Romine should be the guy to go.
The only thing that the light-hitting Romine has going for him at the moment is that he is the sole Tiger who can back up the rookie Eugenio Suarez at shortstop. Well, that and the fact that he and Kelly are both out of minor league options, per multiple reports. Therefore, the Tigers would need to designate either one of them for assignment and risk losing them to another team if they wish to remove them from their active roster.
But what if Kelly could play a little shortstop? Yes, he is 34 years old now and hasn’t played shortstop since he was with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2007, and even then he only logged a grand total of 20 innings there. Thus far, placing Kelly at shortstop has not appeared to be an option that the Tigers are even willing to mull over. However, Kelly came up as a shortstop and he logged 422 games at short in the minors. So why not give him a chance?
Although they will both hit in the low-to-mid 200s at best, Kelly has a little more pop in his bat than Romine does. Even though he has yet to hit one this year, Kelly did hit as many as nine home runs in a season with the Tigers back in 2010. He also has much more experience than Romine in both the regular season as well as the postseason.
Furthermore, Kelly has been with the Tigers for much, much longer than Romine. He has been through a lot with the team since 2009. A few of his highlights include hitting a home run against the New York Yankees in Game 5 of the 2011 ALDS and hitting a walk-off sacrifice fly against the Oakland Athletics in Game 2 of the 2012 ALDS just two months after being designated for assignment by the Tigers. Then came Spring Training of 2013, when he fought tooth and nail to win his job back and ultimately made the team over players such as Quintin Berry, Brennan Boesch and Danny Worth.
Although the Tigers certainly have a long way to go and they are not even in first place anymore, one may be tempted to make the argument that if the Tigers are fortunate enough to win a championship this year, Kelly deserves to be a part of it. Although it is a little bit out there to say the very least, keeping Kelly over Romine is an idea that deserves consideration.