Soto honored and hyped to represent Tigers in All-Star Game

Detroit News

Minneapolis – Gregory Soto has a guy. Heck yes he has a guy.

Few Tigers players can match Soto’s flair, on the mound or off the mound – from his multi-colored dreads to chic wardrobe. So keep an eye out for him during the red carpet ceremony on Tuesday – as if you could miss him.

“I haven’t found out yet what I’m supposed to wear,” Soto said with a smile through bilingual interpreter Carlos Guillen. “But I know I am going to have a nice outfit for the red carpet.”

Bummer, though, his dreads won’t be Tiger orange or any other.

“Takes time to do that,” he said. “We didn’t have enough notice. Had I known I definitely would’ve taken care of that.”

Truly, all he needs to do to make a splash in his All-Star debut is to bring his near triple-digit heater. That will bring the oohs and ahs.

Soto, selected by a vote of his teammates to be the club’s lone All-Star representative, has been averaging 97.8 mph with both his sinker and four-seam fastballs. That’s in the top 2 percentile in baseball.

His 2,400-rpm spin rate also ranks in the upper 22 percentile in baseball, which means the 97.8 mph plays even firmer to the hitters.

That will impress more than anything he wears on the red carpet, for sure.

What’s impressed manager AJ Hinch, though, is how Soto has accepted his role. Soto believes he is a closer. And in a sense, he is the Tigers’ closer. But sometimes the save comes in the sixth, the seventh, the eighth or the ninth inning. He’s not confined to the last three outs of the game.

And he’s fully bought in to that.

“If you have the mindset of helping the team, it doesn’t matter what inning or what situation you’re going to pitch,” he said. “Just as long as I can help the team win, I’m ready for that.”

The Tigers are 25-12 when Soto pitches, which is why he was a no-brainer choice for his teammates.

“That was pretty nice,” Soto said of his teammates’ vote. “The fact that they gave me that support and gave me the opportunity to represent them in the All-Star game means everything to me.”

Does he have a dream matchup in mind for Tuesday night? Oh, yes.

“It’s been a dream of mine since I was kid, just pitching in an All-Star game,” he said. “I don’t care who I face. But it would be really special to face Juan Soto.”

Juan Soto?

“We have the same last name,” he said, smiling. “Soto vs. Soto.”

Twitter@cmccosky

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