Tigers' Riley Greene Gets A Boost From Healthy Competition
Given that he was the Tigers’ first-round pick in 2019, it’s easy to forget that 2021 was Riley Greene’s first full season of professional baseball.
“It was definitely a really good experience,” Greene said. “Getting that many games under my belt, getting that many plate appearances, and now just figuring out what works for me in a full season, it's a grind.
"You’ve got to find things that work for you to keep the body healthy and keep the mind straight. It was a learning process.”
The Tigers challenged Greene with an aggressive assignment to Double-A Erie to begin the regular season, and Greene didn’t disappoint.
In addition to his natural talent, Greene credited the companionship of Spencer Torkelson—and a little bit of healthy competition—for helping sharpen his game.
After representing Detroit in the Futures Game, Greene and Torkelson were paired up as roommates during their assignment to Triple-A Toledo. Time away from the field consisted of a lot of video games, specifically golf.
“I think (Spencer) beat me every single time besides once,” Greene said. “So I lost a lot of games and it was very frustrating. But it is what it is, it's a video game. I want to win. It sucks either losing in baseball or losing in a video game. I always want to win, I'm a competitive guy.”
Greene used that same competitive drive against teammate Ryan Kreidler.
“At the start, Kreidler and I were roommates and it was just a friendly competition in our room,” Greene said. “It was just like, 'You're going to be better than me one day, and the next day I'm going to try to be better than you.'
"For example, say Kreidler hits a home run. I'm like, 'I want to be better than him. I want to hit a home run right now.' It's like a friendly competition."
Greene, 21, finished the year with a .301/.387/.534 line with 24 home runs and has a chance to make his MLB debut in 2022.
— Righthander Zack Hess had Tommy John Surgery at the end of January. The 24-year-old righthander posted a 3.42 ERA with 13 saves and 69 strikeouts over 52.2 innings between High-A West Michigan and Double-A Erie. The Tigers drafted him in the seventh round in 2019.
— With the MLB owners' lockout stretching into mid February, Tigers minor league players who are not members of the 40-man roster and minor league staff are still planning to report to Lakeland, Fla., beginning Feb. 13 for spring training.