Detroit Tigers’ Riley Greene fishing for something big this spring: Big-league knowledge

Detroit Free Press

Jeff Seidel | Detroit Free Press

LAKELAND, Fla. — We interrupt spring training for a fishing story.

Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene, two of the Detroit Tigers’ top prospects, went fishing in a pond behind the house they are renting at spring training.

And Jake Rogers, their other roommate, went out to watch and pulled up a chair.

“He’s like, ‘I’m just watching my kids,’” Greene said. “I thought that was pretty funny. He’s kind of like the dad of the house.”

[ Jake Rogers’ plan to work with AJ Hinch in spring: ‘I hope he gets on me’ ]

Greene is 20 and Torkelson is one year older, while Rogers, 26, is the old man of the group.

“It’s like a running joke,” Greene said, laughing.

Yes, Greene and Torkelson caught some fish. Two of ‘em.

“I’m pretty sure there was probably two fish in the pond and we caught we caught them both,” Greene said. “I guess it’s a win for us.”

If only those walls of that house could talk.

It is beyond intriguing that Torkelson and Greene are living together at spring training — their friendship has been building over the last year.

[ Willi Castro is the Tigers shortstop. Here’s AJ Hinch’s plan ]

But it makes sense that they have bonded because they are living the same life.

Two first-round draft picks who are the future of this franchise.

So today, let’s focus on Greene.

Light on his feet

Even though he appeared in seven spring training games in 2020 — before it was shut down because of COVID-19 — this is his first big-league camp.

“The players are different and the coaches are different, too,” he said.

But Greene is taking advantage of it.

“Just being able to pick people’s brains and just listening to the conversations,” Greene said. “It’s like, wow, I didn’t know that and now I know it. So I’ve been learning a lot. Just the past three days we’ve been here.”

MORE FROM SEIDEL: Niko Goodrum is the Tigers’ trash-talking, fun-loving unicorn. But one thing riles him

Greene was taking batting practice with Robbie Grossman on Wednesday on a back field when he got a lesson on reading pitchers.

“We were just tracking,” Greene said. “We weren’t even swinging. And just the things he was saying to me, like things I wouldn’t think of. He’s like, hey, man, look at the pitcher. Look what he’s doing. He’s tipping his pitches, all pitchers are going to do something. Some are perfect, but most of them are not. The advice he’s been giving me has really been helping.”

[ Robbie Grossman finds pride in clubhouse, lineup leadership roles ]

Greene dropped some weight before coming to spring training He was up to 220 pounds in Toledo last summer. But he arrived in Lakeland at 205.

“I felt a little heavy at 220,” he said. “I feel like 205 is a good weight for me. I feel fast. I feel athletic.”

Of course, everybody just wants to know one thing about Greene.

When will he get to Detroit?

He is expected to start this season at Double-A Erie.

How he does there will determine everything.

“I really don’t think about it,” Greene said. “I just take things day by day. I’m gonna go out there and play as far as I can. And all that stuff will take care of itself.”

The big catch

Finally, let’s finish this tale with another story about fishing.

Greene spent his offseason on his boat.

“I always mess with my buddies,” Greene said. “I was like hey man, if you want to go out take you out Riley Greene Fishing Charters, here we go. Me and my buddies have been catching fish. I actually put my cousin’s boyfriend on a 50-inch red fish, like 60 pounds, so it was pretty big.”

Most fish stories end with the one that got away.

But not this story.

Greene is in camp and looking fast and athletic, jacking home runs during batting practice.

A young kid trying to get ready for his time.

Contact Jeff Seidel: jseidel@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @seideljeff. To read his recent columns, go to freep.com/sports/jeff-seidel/.

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