Torkelson fights boredom, readies for season

Detroit Tigers

Spencer Torkelson’s first offseason as a pro athlete has had some of the same issues everyone else has been dealing with in this pandemic.
“Honestly, it’s a little boring at times,” he said during a Friday evening video conference with reporters. “I try to work out as much as possible.

Spencer Torkelson’s first offseason as a pro athlete has had some of the same issues everyone else has been dealing with in this pandemic.

“Honestly, it’s a little boring at times,” he said during a Friday evening video conference with reporters. “I try to work out as much as possible. I work out in the morning, and then I go home, get a good lunch, and then I’m bored. So I’m like, ‘I’m gonna go work out again.’ And then it’s 6 o’clock and I’m like, ‘Do I work out again? Like, what do I do?’ Because there’s a lot of downtime.”

The first pick in last year’s MLB Draft, and the No. 3 prospect in the latest MLB Pipeline Top 100 list released this week, hasn’t played a competitive game since last March at Arizona State. The slugger has been either working out or playing camp games for nearly a year, from pre-draft workouts in California to Summer Camp in Detroit to the alternate training site in Toledo to Instructional League in Florida and back home to Arizona. He’s ready for games that count, even if they’re Spring Training contests ahead of a Minor League assignment when that season begins.

He’s set to return to Lakeland in about a week and work out there, having just booked a house to share with fellow Tigers prospects Jake Rogers and Riley Greene. He has received scouting reports on Class A West Michigan, where he’s expected to open his pro career.

“Riley Greene said it’s his favorite place to play,” Torkelson said of the Whitecaps. “He’s probably played in some pretty cool places. I’m looking forward to wherever I start, but West Michigan is not a bad option, I’ve heard.”

Barring insanity, Detroit will have to wait. But he’ll get a chance to make an impression in Spring Training, where the Tigers will have a chance to gauge his progress at third base.

While much of his work is at a local gym, he has had access to the facilities at Arizona State. Sometimes his good friend, ASU pitcher Dom Cacchione, has been hitting him ground balls. Other times, he gets a pitching machine, puts it on the ground and sets it to curveballs to fire him grounders with topspin.

All the while, he keeps Hall of Famer Alan Trammell’s instruction in mind.

“Tram’s advice is simple, but it goes a long way,” Torkelson said. “His first rule is to catch the baseball, and his second rule is to make an accurate throw to first base or second base or wherever the throw is going. So with that in the back of my mind, it makes training a little bit easier, but you definitely want to work on the footwork drills like taking a backhand and keeping your feet moving towards first base so you don’t lose arm strength on a fast runner, little things like that, that Tram has taught me. …

“It’s unbelievable to have a guy of that stature be so selfless and give his time to people like me and other guys in the organization. He has no idea how much he’s actually doing with his time, so I really appreciate it.”

They’ll likely to get to work together again once they arrive in Lakeland once camp begins. From there, any boredom will quickly end.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck’s Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.

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