Shortly before the 51s took on Colorado Springs on Sunday, manager Wally Backman had an request for his left fielder, one that was odd in its timing.
Backman told Kelly to go upstairs to fetch an item for him just five minutes before the game.
“I said go pay for it and have the clubbie go get it and when you’re doing that, I said ‘Pack your (stuff) because you’re going to Washington,’” Backman said.
So off Kelly went to meet the Mets in Washington, D.C., finally getting a shot in the big leagues after being drafted in 2009.
“I’m just kind of taking it all in right now, just having as much fun with it as I can for now,” Kelly told reporters in Washington, D.C. “Once the games get going, I just hopefully play well and try to be as confident as I can.”
Kelly first cracked Triple-A in 2012, but hadn’t gotten an opportunity in the majors — until this week.
At the time of his call up, Kelly was leading the Pacific Coast League hitting .391.
“He’s never been there. He’s played eight years, I think, in the minor leagues,” Backman said. “It’s a well-deserved opportunity for him, I think, because he’s played so well.”
He was called up after the Mets had to put first baseman Lucas Duda on the disabled list with a stress fracture in his lower back.
Kelly has played first in three games this season for the 51s, but he gives the Mets some flexibility because he can be used all around the field and is a switch hitter.
— New York Mets (@Mets) May 23, 2016
In his absence, Kyle Johnson joined the 51s from Double-A Binghamton.
Backman said Johnson can play all three outfield positions, and he was at Triple-A for a period of time last season before suffering an injury.
In order to add Kelly to the 40-man roster, 51s reliever Dario Alvarez was designated for assignment and is on waivers.
If he goes unclaimed, Backman said the Mets could choose to bring him back to Triple-A or he could opt for free agency.
Alvarez has had struggled this season, going 0-1 with a 9.98 ERA in 17 appearances out of the 51s’ bullpen this year.
With the Alvarez move, the 51s currently have a 24-man roster, though they expect to activate shortstop Gavin Cecchini from the disabled list on Tuesday.
Cecchini hasn’t played since May 6, dealing with a sore back and his return date has been repeatedly pushed back, but he did full activities on Monday and he will again on Tuesday, after which Backman expects him to be back in the lineup.
Betsy Helfand can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter: @BetsyHelfand