Now on Phillies' Bench, Ty Kelly Looks Back Fondly on Team Israel Experience - NBC 10 Philadelphia

Now on Phillies' Bench, Ty Kelly Looks Back Fondly on Team Israel Experience

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    Now on Phillies' Bench, Ty Kelly Looks Back Fondly on Team Israel Experience
    CSNPhilly.com
    Now on Phillies' bench, Ty Kelly looks back fondly on Team Israel experience

    Ty Kelly is currently the 25th man on the Phillies' roster, a utliity man who has all of two starts with the club this year.

    But two and a half months ago, he was one of the headlining players on the Cinderella squad of the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

    Kelly was the starting third baseman for Team Israel, which made a surprising run to the second round with a perfect run through Pool A. The team began the WBC with an upset over host South Korea before wins over Chinese Taipei and the Netherlands. Israel beat Cuba in the next round in Japan, but fell to Japan and the Netherlands handily.

    Unlike most MLB players who spent their spring in Florida, Kelly got to experience two major Asian cities -- Seoul and Tokyo -- while getting his preseason at-bats.

    "It was a great experience, trying the food and all that and seeing all the sights," Kelly said.

    However, he wasn't too adventurous with trying the local cuisine compared to his teammates.

    "Some of the guys were really trying to seek out the native food," Kelly said. "I wanted to do that as much as I could, but at the same time, you're still trying to get ready for baseball games in a tournament, so you've got to do what's best for your body.

    "Chicken sandwiches for me were the way to go for the most part," he added with a laugh.

    Kelly's participation with the squad began in the middle of 2016, when Peter Kurz, the President of the Israel Association of Baseball, emailed him and asked if he had a Jewish grandparent. Kelly's mother's side of the family is Jewish, making Kelly eligible.

    Last year was also the end of Kelly's long road to the major leagues. Drafted by the Orioles in 2009 out of UC Davis, Kelly was traded multiple times, once straight up for current Brewers slugger Eric Thames before Thames went to Korea and back. Kelly wound up with the Mets and finally made his MLB debut two months shy of his 28th birthday. He played 39 games for the Mets at six different positions and got a hit in his only postseason at-bat, which came vs. Madison Bumgarner no less.

    Kelly still had to make the Mets this spring, which could have made joining the WBC a tough decision. However, the organization was on board with Kelly playing in the tournament.

    "It made it difficult, but I talked to the Mets about it and they were all for me going over there and still playing and getting experience," he said. "People were still watching, so once I got the go-ahead from them, it was an easy decision."

    Kelly made the Mets out of the spring but had just one at-bat before he put on waivers and was claimed by the Blue Jays. Eight days later, he was traded to the Phillies. He has four hits (three doubles) in 19 at-bats with the Phillies and had the game-winning RBI single two weeks ago in the front end of the Phils' doubleheader with the Nationals.

    He's the only player from Team Israel to have played in the majors this season. Ryan Lavarnway and former Mets 1B Ike Davis are in AAA while the roster also included former MLBers Nate Freiman, Sam Fuld and Jason Marquis.

    While none of his WBC teammates have parlayed Team Israel's run into MLB time, Kelly still thinks the team caught the eye of people in the game.

    "There was definitely a lot of fandom around our team," Kelly said. "A lot of people rallied around us, including people in front offices I think. Of Jewish descent or not, I think a lot of people liked what we did.

    "Being a part of that definitely looks good for me, which is just an added bonus."