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 Tigers option Thomas, bring up Kelly

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GoGetEmTigers
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PostSubject: Tigers option Thomas, bring up Kelly   Fri Jun 12, 2009 12:09 am

Tigers option Thomas, bring up Kelly
Slumping at the plate, outfielder to work on mechanics

By Jason Beck / MLB.com

06/11/09 8:47 PM ET

CHICAGO -- Donnie Kelly will make his return to the Majors in his hometown, the place where he first broke into the big leagues. Clete Thomas' early season role as a catalyst, on the other hand, is over.

The Tigers optioned the slumping Thomas to Triple-A Toledo for some hitting work after his 0-for-4 performance Thursday extended his nearly month-long struggles. Detroit, meanwhile, purchased Kelly's contract from the Mud Hens and will add him to the active roster Friday to start their three-game series against the Pirates at PNC Park, where he'll probably start in left field.

Thomas started out as a spark for the Tigers after joining the team in early May, but he was batting under .200 since May 16, including 0-for-4 with two strikeouts Thursday. His go-ahead grand slam against the Angels last Sunday at Comerica Park was one of just three hits for him in 29 June at-bats, dropping his average for the season to .237.

As much as manager Jim Leyland likes what Thomas brings to the Tigers, he couldn't keep going to him with Detroit's offense struggling.

"We think he's got a shot to be a very good everyday player," Leyland said, "but he's got to work on shortening his swing. The swing's too long right now. He's got to go down there and work on getting that foot down and shorten up his swing a little bit."

Thomas struck out 14 times over 96 plate appearances in May. That strikeout rate jumped in June to 11 over 31 plate appearances.

"This is really not a punishment," Leyland said. "This is a player that we love. We think a lot of him, but this is what you do. When you see there's some obvious stuff that big league pitchers are going to take advantage of, then you send him down to work on stuff like that."

Kelly, meanwhile, has been a versatile piece for the Mud Hens. He was batting .341 for Toledo with a team-best 62 hits, three homers, 22 RBIs and 14 stolen bases in 17 attempts. Moreover, the former Tigers middle infield prospect has added positions to repertoire. He spent most of Spring Training as an extra first baseman, where he remained once he joined the Mud Hens until they needed help in center field. His transition there, by many accounts, has been impressive.

"He can play all over the place, pretty much anywhere," Leyland said. "It gives us a little bit more versatility, a little more depth."

The offense, meanwhile, seems to be a combination of physical and mental maturity. While he has gotten stronger at 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds, the 29-year-old is now in his ninth Minor League season since the Tigers selected him in the eighth round of the 2001 First-Year Player Draft out of Pittsburgh's Point Park College.

The Butler, Pa., native had spent the previous two seasons in other organizations, including 2007 with the Pirates, who gave him his first shot at the big leagues that year by putting him on their Opening Day roster as a utility infielder. He went 4-for-27 at the plate before Pittsburgh designated him for assignment in June.

"He's come back and really done well," Leyland said. "To me, that's what it's all about. When you have somebody that needs to work on something, then you reward people that are really doing well. And he's really done well."

But the biggest part of the move, Leyland said, is to get Thomas back in form.

"You can see they're throwing high fastballs by him," Leyland said. "They're going out of the strike zone, and he's long, and he's not catching up with it right now. But I'm sure he'll be back. He's one of the players in our organization we think has a chance to be a very, very good Major League player."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers option Thomas, bring up Kelly   Fri Jun 12, 2009 3:49 pm

That Sucks
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers option Thomas, bring up Kelly   Fri Jun 12, 2009 6:07 pm

Even Clete realizes he needs help with his batting stroke. They are great in Toledo at helping batters and pitchers.


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PostSubject: Re: Tigers option Thomas, bring up Kelly   Thu Jun 18, 2009 7:23 pm

GoGetEmTigers wrote:
Even Clete realizes he needs help with his batting stroke. They are great in Toledo at helping batters and pitchers.



He ain't the only one


Tigers need to start hitting
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers option Thomas, bring up Kelly   Thu Jun 18, 2009 9:13 pm

Will the Tigers ever score 5 runs again?


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PostSubject: Re: Tigers option Thomas, bring up Kelly   Fri Jun 19, 2009 12:14 am

We did tonight =]
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