DETROIT -- What was expected to be a game-time decision on Rajai Davis did not last into batting practice on Sunday. The Tigers center fielder, who has battled a pelvic ligament strain for the past week, was not in Detroit's starting lineup for Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Orioles at Comerica Park. The Tigers trail Baltimore in the best-of-five series, 2-0.
Utility man Don Kelly will get the start in center over Ezequiel Carrera, who replaced Davis when he left Game 2 in the fourth inning. Davis is available to pinch-hit, but in the end, manager Brad Ausmus could not count on Davis being able to play nine innings.
"I would rather have him on the bench and be able to use him at a specified time," Ausmus said, "than have him go out there and suddenly come out of the game and not be able to use him later in a more optimal spot."
Davis spent Saturday receiving treatment on the injury, and he was optimistic he would be able to play. Ausmus left his options open, including Kelly, but said the forecast for a high temperature in the low- to mid-50s concerned him.
"Considering the weather, I just don't think it was a prudent move to put him back in there," Ausmus said.
As for Kelly over Carrera, Ausmus called it a "gut instinct."
Carrera played center when tightness forced Davis out of Game 2 in the fourth inning. The speedy Carrera had a late read on a sixth-inning line drive into center field that fell in front of him for a leadoff single.
Kelly started three games in Davis' place in center in September. He's 2-for-7 with a strikeout for his career against Orioles starter Bud Norris.
"Defensively, they're about the same," Ausmus said. "Zeke probably runs a little bit better, [but] Donnie has a little bit more experience."
That's an adjustment from last weekend, when Davis first suffered the injury. When weighing his options in center field, Ausmus ranked Carrera as the best defender, ahead of Kelly.
Kelly has a history of Division Series surprises. His first home home run at Yankee Stadium in Game 5 of the 2011 AL Division Series provided the first run in an eventual 3-2 win that sent Detroit on to the ALCS. A year later, he hit a walk-off sacrifice fly to beat Oakland in Game 2 of the ALDS.
For his career, the 34-year-old Kelly is 8-for-32 in the postseason with a home run, three RBIs and five runs scored.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.