"I've been through pretty much every level of this game that you can imagine, short of being an All-Star," McGehee said before Saturday's game against the Royals. "I've had some really good years, I've had really [lousy] years, OK years, been sent down, released, sent to Japan, came back. I think all those experiences kind of lead me to this point.
"I think I maybe kind of enjoy it in a different way than maybe I did before. But at the same time, I've done this long enough to know that your next day's never guaranteed and that it's serious business. It's not just a time to sit back and be nostalgic."
McGehee takes the roster spot that opened when the Tigers optioned right-hander Buck Farmer to Triple-A Toledo on Friday night. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Tigers designated outfielder Wynton Bernard for assignment.
Getting to Detroit, his seventh Major League squad, took a while. McGehee signed a Minor League deal with the Tigers in mid-February as Spring Training opened, hoping to land a bench role. He didn't get it, but after checking the market, he signed with the Tigers at the end of camp and accepted a stint in Toledo.
The 33-year-old McGehee predictably held his own with the Mud Hens, batting .323 (80-for-248) against International League competition with 17 doubles, four home runs and 27 RBIs in 66 games, good for an .810 OPS. However, with Nick Castellanos hitting well, and Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez both healthy, the opportunity wasn't there.
"When I had decided to re-sign, they were upfront about how there were no guarantees or anything," he said. "At the same time, they said if there was an opportunity that I wanted to pursue, they wouldn't hold me back from that. And I really appreciated them extending that courtesy to me. As much as I could, I really was enjoying my time down there."
Opportunity finally called this weekend. The Tigers have gone with a short bench for the better part of a month, using their final roster spot for an eighth reliever. With the rotation starting to stabilize and the opportunity to add an impact bat off the bench, McGehee has the chance to fill a number of roles.
"With some of the minor injuries we've had, Victor and Cam [Maybin], we decided we needed that fourth position player back," manager Brad Ausmus said. "If we need to give Vic a day for his knee, we can put McGehee at first and DH Miggy, get him off his feet."