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Berry blossoms in majors

The Sports Xchange

It is reaching the point where Quintin Berry is becoming part of the main show, not a side show.

If the Tigers send him back to the minors, Jim Leyland and Dave Dombrowski are going to have to go with him or people will run them both out of town.

Berry, 27, got his first opportunity because the Tigers needed a scooter who could play center field with some polish and fill in for Austin Jackson, out with a bad stomach muscle, as a leadoff hitter.

Jackson returned, but Andy Dirks' sore right Achilles tendon gave Berry an opportunity to squeeze into left and right field on occasion, although he's far from a classic corner outfielder.

"The fact they keep allowing me to have an opportunity to be in critical situations is huge," Berry said after bouncing a single up the middle in the 10th inning Thursday to give Detroit a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. "I'm glad things are rolling."

Berry, hitting .315 in 26 big-league games, is performing far better in the majors than he ever did in the minors.

That would suggest that at some point he'll fall off the mountain he's on. But maybe not.

He's had some stretches in which he looks like a minor league hitter, but he seems to bounce back with something like that five-hit game he had last Sunday. Or, after striking out weakly his first two times up Thursday, scratching out that game-winning single with the bases loaded and one out in the 10th.

"I've never had a walk-off before. It was huge," he said. "I always wondered what it felt like. Jumping around and acting crazy (is what it felt like). I didn't know what to do with myself."

Catcher Alex Avila said. "Look, he isn't just a kid. He's been around. He's been in a lot of situations before. That makes a difference."

Berry is 9-for-9 stealing bases, can bunt for a hit and has amazing speed. Not as polished an outfielder as Jackson, he'd play for a lot of teams.

Perhaps teams don't have full scouting reports on Berry because, as a singles hitter who never hit much in the minors, who could take him seriously?

But it's also possible that Berry is just one of those late bloomers who just takes a half-dozen years to figure it out. Like Popeye, his mantra is, "I am what I am, and that's all that I am."

His concentration level has to be way up over what it was in the minors. He gets better pitches to hit. He's just trying to put the ball in play.

Whatever it is, it's working for now.

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.


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