Quintin Berry claimed off waivers by Royals
DETROIT — The Detroit Tigers caught lightning in a bottle with Quintin Berry last season.
Then, once it flamed out, they let it go.
Designated for assignment by the Tigers on Sunday, the 28-year-old outfielder was claimed off waivers by the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday.
He was optioned to the Royals’ Triple-A affiliate, the Omaha Storm Chasers.
The popular Berry, who’d been hitting .168 in 49 games with the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens, was placed on waivers after the Tigers reacquired minor leaguer Francisco Martinez.
Detroit had 10 days to either trade, release or place Berry on waivers after the designation.
“Periodically last year, he gave us spark,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “This is a great opportunity for him. We’re happy for him. It didn’t work out. But if he’d been right-handed, and played third base or first base, second base in an emergency, he’d have probably been on the team.
“That’s just the way it works.”
Berry hit .258 in 94 games with the Tigers last year, and stole 21 bases, after coming up midseason when Austin Jackson missed time with a ribcage injury. He’d been signed before the 2012 season as minor-league depth, after bouncing around through five organizations.
The outfielder had only briefly played above Double A in his minor league career prior to last season, but getting a taste of the big leagues changed his perspective.
“You get up there, you get an opportunity to play every day, get to the postseason and play, get to the World Series and play, and then everything changes. Your expectations change in yourself. You never want to take a step back. But that’s the name of the game. It is what it is,” Berry said earlier this season, acknowledging that he had to make the best of the situation, despite feeling that the “decision was already made” before spring training.
“You have to. You have no choice. So I’m here, and I’m making the most of it, trying to get better. Going on the same ride a lot of guys are down here. There’s a lot of us that got sent down, so we’re all on the same page, pushing for each other, helping each other try to get better and get back.”
Having said that, though, Berry hadn’t done a ton to get himself back to the Tigers, languishing in Toledo. Leyland said at the time he was cut that Berry took it very hard, and there may have been some emotional carry-over that impacted his performance.
“I don’t know the answer to that, because you never know. Because in most cases, it’s a temporary disappointment. It may be a permanent disappointment, but normally, at some point, they get themselves together,” Leyland said Tuesday.
“I know he was struggling at Toledo. Some people are very sensitive to stuff, and they get over it not as quickly as other people. I don’t know that this was the case.”
Is it fair to say that Berry took the news harder than most, though?
“I don’t know about that,” Leyland said. “There haven’t been too many players that should make a team that don’t make it — Danny Worth, for example — that take it like Mother Teresa.”