LAKELAND, Fla. – Riley Greene sped around the Tigers complex on his scooter Tuesday morning with the same instinctive aggressiveness that he scooted around the basepaths with for most of Spring Training before his fractured right foot ended his hopes of making the Opening Day roster.
“I need to get a horn on this,” Greene said as he wheeled into the clubhouse.
It’s an incredible turn of events for someone who seemed ready to make his Major League debut on Opening Day at Comerica Park. It’s something he’s trying to take in stride, no pun intended, as best as he can.
“At first, I was bummed,” Greene said Tuesday morning at Joker Marchant Stadium, “but I’m just trying to take something bad and turn it into a positive. Things happen for a reason. I’m trying to stay as positive as I can. “I’m going to be here for however long and work on getting as healthy as possible, and we’ll see what happens.”
The injury, Greene said, was as unusual as it seems. A broken bone near the bottom foot seems physically impossible to suffer on a foul tip, but Greene said his front foot was rolled over as he tried to reach for a Gerrit Cole curveball, so he fouled the ball off the inside of his foot rather than the top.
Not until Greene hit a ball to the center-field fence for a triple two pitches later did he feel it.
“I was like, ‘Oh, it’s just like a normal [foul ball]. It happens to me all the time. Whatever, ‘”Greene said. “And then, once I got to third, we had a couple minutes before something happened, so my foot just wasn’t really moving much. And I was just like, ‘This does not feel right.’
“Once I got in [to the dugout]I told them, ‘Hey, I can not play right now.’ “
Still, Greene was surprised to hear he had fractured a bone.
For now, with his foot in a boot, the scooter is how he gets around. He cannot drive, so catcher Jake Rogers – who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery – is serving as his chauffeur.
“Hey, he lets me drive the [F-150] Raptor, ”Rogers said.
Greene’s good friend, Spencer Torkelson, had been driving it for the past few days. But Torkelson heads to Detroit on Wednesday to make his Major League debut on Opening Day. Greene should have been joining him there, if not for the injury.
“It would have been awesome to be in that moment,” Greene said. “But it’s going to be his moment now. The spotlight’s going to be on him for that time, and I’m so happy for him. He gave me a hug, and I’m definitely going to be watching the first game, that’s for sure. “
Barnes, Vest, Hutchison make Opening Day roster
The Tigers haven’t set their Opening Day roster yet, but manager AJ Hinch said he told relievers Jacob Barnes, Will Vest and Drew Hutchison that they’ve made the bullpen.
All three will have to be added to Detroit’s 40-man roster, as will Torkelson. The Tigers can open two spots by placing Spencer Turnbull and Rogers on the 60-day injured list.
The decisions mean eight spots are currently set on what will be either a nine- or 10-man relief corps.
The Tigers optioned Rodriguez to Double-A Erie on March 22, but they’re taking a further look like they did with Barnes.
“Him being on the [40-man] roster and also the effectiveness of his fastball, ”Hinch said. “He’s got good stuff, good delivery, great demeanor. That has impressed us over the spring, and that leaves him as a viable candidate. Could be short-term as we get healthier, but being on the 40 does help. ”
The Tigers have not yet decided whether they’ll carry 14 or 15 pitchers.
“We are a little beat up in some areas I’m not ready to talk about yet,” Hinch said. “We’re not finalized because of some unknown on a health issue and also on a construction issue.”