Tigers icon, coach Alan Trammell likes what he’s seeing from Spencer Torkelson, Riley Greene

Detroit Free Press

Detroit Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire shuffled his coaching staff for Thursday’s doubleheader with the St. Louis Cardinals, bringing Hall of Famer Alan Trammell along to help get his team back on track after Wednesday’s historic 19-0 loss.

The move was sparked by third base coach Ramon Santiago, who quietly sneaked out of Comerica Park on Wednesday and traveled to Miami, where he passed his U.S.citizenship test Thursday morning. 

First base coach Dave Clark shifted to third base in Santiago’s absence, calling Trammell — a special assistant to general manager Al Avila — to return to uniform at first.

“You’re on a major-league field, that never gets old,” Trammel said Thursday. “It’s been a few years, but I understand, and I know what to look for. I’m looking at a little film and some of the pitchers and their moves, things like that. (Kirk Gibson) would be proud that I’m going to that next level, just to have a little more information.”

[ Alan Trammell was Detroit Tigers’ heartbeat for 20 years: Here’s how ]

Trammell played for the Tigers 1977-96, accumulating 2,365 hits, 185 home runs and 1,003 RBIs. He was a six-time All-Star and World Series champion in 1984. Following his playing career, he managed Detroit from 2003-05, along with three games as an interim for Arizona Diamondbacks in 2014. 

He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2018 and his No. 3 jersey was retired by the Tigers on Aug. 26, 2018. 

“He’s a fountain of information for these guys and our infielders,” Gardenhire said. “Him and I had a great conversation this morning, just talking baseball in general. Nice to have him around. I’ve always respected this guy.

“More for just being so down to earth and such a nice guy than anything he’s done in baseball. He’s just a class act.”

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Torkelson looks ‘very good’

When Trammell isn’t filling short-term coaching vacancies, which he has done a few times for the Tigers over the years, he trains prospects at the alternate training site at Fifth Third Field in Toledo.

Right now, his project is Spencer Torkelson’s development.

[ Why Detroit Tigers’ Riley Greene, Spencer Torkelson will benefit from unique training site ]

The No. 1 pick from the 2020 draft is making a “very good” transition from first base to third base, which is where Avila believes the slugger will end up as a big-leaguer. Without a minor-league season, the challenge has been finding ways to replicate the speed of a professional game.

[ Why Tigers’ Alan Trammell is sold on Spencer Torkelson: ‘No ballpark’s gonna hold Tork’ ]

“You can’t create that,” Trammell said. “You can’t just script that (with intrasquad games). You got to be ready, so when balls have been hit, he’s made most of the plays, to be honest with you. So that’s what we’re looking for. But he needs some seasoning, needs some games. He needs a minor-league season where he gets that under his belt, but he’s been very good.”

The 21-year-old has slumped at times, coming off a college career at Arizona State, where he crushed 54 homers, 130 RBIs and held a .337 batting average.

“We’re trying to even some of that out with him and some of the other players,” Trammell said. “But for them to get this experience has been invaluable, so I believe for him and some of the other guys, it’s going to help their development go a little bit quicker.”

Torkelson is the Tigers’ No. 1 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, followed by right-handers Casey Mize and Matt Manning.

Greene ‘not quite ready’

Another prospect Trammell has kept a close eye on is outfielder Riley Greene, the No. 5 overall pick from the 2019 draft. He wouldn’t directly speak for Avila, but he said a September call-up is “not gonna happen” for the 19-year-old.

He is ranked as the No. 4 prospect in the team’s farm system.

“That’s not part of the deal,” Trammell said. “He’s doing quite well. I will say that this kid is ahead of the curve, so to speak. Again, this experience that he’s gaining this year is invaluable, but he’s not quite ready. Let’s just leave it at that. But he’s a fine young man and he’s played very well down in Toledo.”

[ Riley Greene giving Detroit Tigers a chance to dream about the future ]

In 57 games for three teams in 2019, Greene slashed .271/.347/.403 with eight doubles, three triples, five home runs and 28 RBIs. He stole five bases without being caught. He played for the Gulf Coast League Tigers (nine games), Low-A Connecticut (24 games) and Single-A West Michigan (24 games). 

He impressed in seven spring training games with a .417 batting average, two homers and four RBIs. His success continued throughout summer camp at Comerica Park in July, but he did not make the MLB roster.

On Wednesday, the Tigers called up 23-year-old outfielder Daz Cameron, the organization’s No. 7 prospect, for his debut.

[ Daz Cameron’s ‘life-changing’ COVID-19 battle concludes with Detroit Tigers debut ]

Evan Petzold is a sports reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

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