Tigers’ Berry keeps performing in limited role

DETROIT — Quintin Berry probably won’t be a .333 hitter in the big leagues for long.

His real level is probably 70 or 80 points lower than that, but for the moment, he’s going to just let things ride.

Sunday,
Berry went 5 for 5 in Detroit’s 5-0 victory over the Colorado Rockies —
the first time in his short career that he has gotten more than three
hits in a game.

“You never go out there thinking about getting
five hits,” said Berry, who also stole a base and scored a run. “It’s
just something that happens.”

Berry was never supposed to be part
of the Tigers this season; he was signed as a minor-league free agent to
provide Triple-A Toledo with some speed in center field. At the age of
27, he already had been given up on by the Phillies, Padres, Reds and
Mets without ever spending a day in the big leagues.

That all
changed when Austin Jackson pulled an abdominal muscle, forcing the
Tigers to put Berry in center. He delivered some hits and made some
spectacular plays, but didn’t have an obvious spot in the lineup when
Jackson returned.

Sunday, though, he got a rare start in left field and made the most of it.

“I’ve
never hit in the second hole very much, but hitting behind Austin is
great,” he said. “You know you are going to get fastballs to hit,
because they don’t want to take too long to get the ball to the plate
and let him steal bases. That’s not something you get when you are
hitting ninth or leadoff.”

Berry still doesn’t have a spot in the
lineup, but Jim Leyland acknowledges that it is harder to keep him out,
especially with Andy Dirks nowhere near returning from a strained
Achilles tendon.

“Quintin Berry had a unbelievable day,” Leyland
said. “He didn’t try to do too much, he just laid the bat on the ball.
Those weren’t fluke hits, either, every one of them was hit hard.

“Dirksy’s going to be a while, and Quintin gives us a different dimension. Trust me, we’ll have our best team on the field.”

COMING AND GOING

With
Drew Smyly sidelined by a blister and Casey Crosby sent back to Toledo,
the Tigers were going to have to do some juggling to fill a rotation
spot. Leyland had talked about making Thursday a bullpen start, with
several relievers contributing an inning or two, but the decision was
made Sunday that super-prospect Jacob Turner will come up from Toledo to
pitch against the Cardinals.

“When I spoke with Dave (Dombrowski,
the GM), he said he wanted to give Jacob a shot,” Leyland said. “That’s
fine. He’ll be pitching against his hometown team, so maybe that will
give him a boost.”

Alex Avila continued on schedule in his
recovery from a pulled hamstring. He’s expected to catch five innings on
Monday and Tuesday on a rehab assignment with Toledo, DH for the Mud
Hens on Wednesday and then rejoin the Tigers on Thursday. However, the
news isn’t as good about Dirks. Dombrowski told FOX Sports’ Jon Paul
Morosi that the outfielder might not be back until the All-Star break.