Jackson pushed his workouts to be ready for a return in Cleveland, but further pain landed him on the DL. The hope is Jackson will be ready to come off the DL when he is eligible next Friday. In the meantime the Tigers are cashing in an insurance policy.
Quintin Berry has paid his dues in the minor leagues and now he is paying dividends for the Tigers. Jackson’s absence has created an opportunity for the career minor leaguer. Berry was called up from Toledo to give the Tigers a legitimate leadoff hitter and some speed in the lineup. After nearly 700 games in the minor leagues, the San Diego native is hanging out in a big league clubhouse for the first time in his career.
I didn’t take long for Berry to record his first big league hit. It’s just that a bunt double is a unique way to do it. Berry’s first hit in Cleveland will have to take a back seat to his third big league game on Friday in Minneapolis. The speedy leadoff man had two hits, including a bunt single, a stolen base, an RBI, a walk and a run scored. Not a bad night, and certainly his best so far in the major leagues.
A three game glimpse into what Berry can provide gave us an intriguing view of what speed is like in a lineup. It’s a view Tigers fans are not used to. Since Jim Leyland took over as skipper in 2006, speed has not been plentiful in the Tigers starting nine. Mashers and run producers? Yes. Speed? No.
The last Tiger to steal at least 40 bases in a season was Alex Sanchez in 2003. Sanchez didn’t hang around very long, and the club has been built around power ever since.
However, Berry’s ability to spray the ball around and pressure the defense with his speed and base stealing ability has been fun to watch. There is no telling how many bases he could steal in a full big league season because we don’t know if he would hit enough to play every day at this level.
We do know this though; he has a pretty good hitter in his corner. Growing up in San Diego, the great Tony Gwynn became his mentor and eventually his coach at San Diego State. Gwynn has given Berry the confidence to believe he can play every day at this level. All anyone needs is a chance.
For the next week at least, Quintin will get his.