DETROIT — There’s an unsettling notion flying around Comerica Park and it goes a little something like this: Quintin Berry’s roster spot is still up in the air.
No, it’s true. Even after this scalding cup of coffee has managed to inject a little life into the Tigers over the last couple of weeks.
Berry is fast. He plays his tail off. His swing is improving. Most important, he’s exciting. Like color-changing FunDip, stick-a-fork-in-a-socket exciting.
He’s so geeked up on baseball, it’s a miracle his hair doesn’t stand on end when he takes off his hat.
When he rounds second, he defies no less than seven laws of physics. His leads are suicidal. His swing is, too. He’s a beautiful, train-wrecked blur of a ballplayer, and the Tigers can’t send him back to Toledo. They just can’t.
Through Friday, the 27-year-old center fielder was hitting .363 in his 10 games with the Tigers. He’s stolen five bases — already 25 percent more then what they had produced before he arrived — hit a triple and has owned center field. He also reminds us that, yes, fast players are just more fun to watch. And tougher to pitch around.
“It was definitely tough. You have to worry,” Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia said following his team’s 9-4 victory. “When he doubles to lead off, you’re worried about him on second, trying to steal third, so I tried to do a few things to make sure he stayed put.
“But they ended up getting him over anyway.”
Berry isn’t just a one-trick pony. Against Sabathia, arguably the AL’s best left-handed starter for the better part of a decade, Berry went 3-for-5 with a single, a double and a triple.
“He’s tough, a tough out,” Sabathia said. “You know, especially being a lefty and not facing him before, he definitely put some good swings on some good pitches.
“He took some tough pitches, I thought, and hit some balls hard that were up in the zone.”
This is a Tigers team that promised sizzle and steak back in January, when they reeled in the marlin (who was actually a Brewer). All the Tigers have delivered, though, is something resembling a frozen, microwavable pot-roast dish.
What Berry brings to the table is unique, profound, and boy is he fun to watch.