TORONTO – Over the past 2½ months Ty Kelly has been designated for assignment twice, claimed on waivers once, optioned and recalled with a stint playing for upstart Israel at the World Baseball Classic sandwiched in between. Quite the stretch.
“I’m pretty easy-going and I feel like I’m a realist so things happen,” Kelly said after joining the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday. “It’s part of the game, just like getting claimed by another team and getting shuffled around. It’s part of the business and the way the 40-man roster is set up is to give guys more opportunities, so I just see wherever I’m at as an opportunity and this is a new one.”
The Blue Jays claimed the 28-year-old utilityman and optioned him to triple-A Buffalo last week from the New York Mets, who designated him in order to add reliever Paul Sewald to the 40-man roster. The Mets also designated Kelly in February when they needed a spot on the 40 for reliever Jerry Blevins, but he cleared waivers that time.
Kelly’s stay with the Blue Jays may be a short one, as they’ll need to clear a couple of roster spots for starters Friday and Saturday in Anaheim.
In the interim, he gives manager John Gibbons an option for one extra in-game move with a switch-hitter that’s played every position but pitcher and catcher at the big-league level.
His natural spot?
“That’s a good question – I think utility is probably my natural position,” he said. “I’ve played most at second and third in my career but I started out playing a lot of second and third. With the Orioles I had to start playing the outfield and then that turned into some first base also, and it’s just expanded from there. Once you get the tag of super-utility, coaches feel more comfortable putting you all over the field and you start getting experience everywhere. That’s the way it’s been throughout my career.”
Kelly’s equipment even includes catching gear, as he was the Mets’ emergency catcher and occasionally caught bullpens for them.
“I’ve got a glove for all the spots,” he noted.
At the Classic, he batted .208/.250/.321 with a double and six runs scored in six games for Israel, which won Pool A at 3-0 in the first round before going 1-2 in the second round. Kelly still wears an Israel Baseball band around his left wrist.
“When I saw the team we had I honestly expected to do pretty well … I was cautiously confident that we would get out of the first round,” he said. “We weren’t especially deep on pitching, I think most of the teams felt that way, the hardest part is to have consistent pitchers coming in throughout the tournament. But we grinded it out, that’s for sure. All our wins were close games, for the most part, and it was just really fun.”
Lefty J.P. Howell, on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, threw a side session Tuesday and is slated to pitch an inning of rehab for single-A Dunedin on Thursday.
His timeline for a return will depend on how he feels and he could be activated after that outing, or be given more work before he returns from the DL.
Aaron Loup is currently the only left-hander in the Blue Jays bullpen.
The Blue Jays’ three homers in Tuesday’s 8-7 loss to the Boston Red Sox was a season-high. … Both Russell Martin (solo homer) and Steve Pearce (RBI single) drove in their first runs of the season. … Danny Barnes, recalled Monday to take the spot of Matt Dermody, threw 1.1 scoreless innings in his 2017 debut. … OF Dalton Pompey, still in baseball’s concussion protocol, is due to accelerate his cardio work this week. … Prospect Lourdes Gurriel Jr., yet to make his debut with single-A Dunedin due to a hamstring strain, is playing in extended spring games and is expected to return fairly soon. … The Blue Jays traded C Juan Graterol, recently designated for assignment, to the Angels for a player to be named or cash.