Q&A: Torkelson, Greene talk friendship, golf and more

Detroit Tigers

LAKELAND, Fla. — Riley Greene was the Tigers’ first-round pick in 2019, taken No. 5 overall. Spencer Torkelson was the No. 1 overall pick, taken a year later. The two hitters have formed a close bond rising up through Detroit’s system together and both are knocking on the big league door.

Jonathan Mayo: I know people probably talked to you guys about each other, but how often do you guys get to talk to each other about each other? You guys have sort of been able to come up together to a certain extent. Was there a moment where you guys solidified the — we’ll call it the bromance, why not?

Spencer Torkelson: Well, it started in instructs. After the Draft, that whole Covid year was a little different. We got to the [alternate] site together, but that was tough. It was tough to build a relationship. With masks, you couldn’t see if they’re smiling, but at instructs it was really cool. I didn’t have my car down here, so Riley was my ride. That’s where the bromance started I’d say.

Riley Greene: Definitely around that time. I was driving him every day, we were the only two people staying in that hotel together, so we would just hang out after our days.

Mayo: It’s a good thing that you get along with each other, right? That’s a lot of forced time with one other person. Like everyone during COVID, you had to limit who you were hanging out with.

Greene: It was definitely nice having someone close in age who understands the game but also understands you’ve got to have a life outside of baseball to have fun.

Mayo: How much is it talking about baseball, talking about hitting? Both of you I’ve talked to before, your ability to talk about hitting is way advanced for how old you guys are. How much is it breaking down at-bats and how much of it is doing normal, young people things?

Torkelson: I’d say it’s about 10 percent baseball conversations outside the field and then 90 percent just being us, being friends having fun, but it’s a little different. Riley’s keys in hitting are special. He was talking to me about how he rotates and I tried to do it for a couple of swings — I was just hooking balls. So whatever works for him doesn’t work for me and maybe vice versa, but it’s a fun conversation.

Greene: I feel like we try to stay away from those conversations, just because it’s a full day of baseball, we kind of want to go home and do something else. Golf or play video games and things like that. We’ll talk about some ABs. I feel like mostly we just talk about where that pitch was and the approach side of everything. We usually just try to flush things and go about our day.

Mayo: What is non-baseball stuff for you? Is it golf and video games? Are those the main things?

Torkelson: Golf and video games are the majority. I try to play PGA but I always lose, so it’s really no fun for me, but it’s fun for them because they always beat me.

Mayo: Well, that’s combining golf and video games into one thing. On the golf course, who’s better?

Greene: I’d say Tork’s better.

Torkelson: We’re both no good. It’s impressive, Riley picked up golf like two years ago, he hits from the right side on the course and he bombs the ball. It’s impressive.

Greene: I hit a power slice, so I just play it and just accepted the fact that I’m going to slice the ball.

Mayo: You guys aren’t pitchers, so you don’t have to be good at golf. How is it that you ended up golfing right-handed?

Greene: My dad’s kind of crazy. He said “I don’t want you to mess up your swing. You’re golfing right-handed.” And I said, “Alright, that’s fine.”

Mayo: You guys are roommates now too, so how much comfort is there knowing that — forget about breaking down at-bats and things like that — but just this process. It’s a long season. You’re trying to get to Detroit. I know both of you guys are competitive, you want to get there. Knowing that you guys are both going through it, almost step-by-step, at the same time. So, even just the difficulty and the grind of it, you know that there’s someone there who’s doing it with you.

Torkelson: No doubt, it’s definitely nice. You know this as well, it’s not on one guy. We come in, we like to share it and go out there compete and try to win baseball games. Off the field, we just hang out and be us.

Greene: It definitely makes me comfortable that I’m around Tork. We’re just going out there and having fun trying to win baseball games like he said.

Mayo: Is there a certain point where the spotlight of being a top pick — and even more so for you Spencer, because you were the number one overall guy — does that go away? And is it helped by the fact that now you’re just guys trying to make it to the big leagues?

Torkelson: Definitely, you know you kind of got to grind through it at first, because no one’s used to that type of spotlight. Once you get through that, and then having Riley being a top pick, it really helps out because we’re both in the same position.

Greene: I feel like we try not to think about it too much. We try to stay off Twitter and social media as much as we can, just don’t pay attention to that kind of stuff. We just try to focus on playing baseball and winning games.

Mayo: Talk a little bit about going to the Futures Game together. I saw you guys there. Spencer, I will always thank you for helping me win the Home Run Derby contest against [Jim] Callis. Riley, you told me you were a singles hitter at the time, I just want to remind you that. Have you been able to look back at that, another thing that you guys were able to do together?

Torkelson: Really fun experience. I’ve never been to Denver in the summertime and it was beautiful. They did it right, that whole event. It was obviously great going with Riley, but it was awesome meeting the other prospects that we’re going to be playing with and against for a long time.

Greene: Same as Tork said, just being able to be there on that field, playing against the best of the best. Being there with Tork, just having fun. That stadium was incredible, hitting BP there was awesome.

Mayo: I know that we rode you a little bit for your mustache during the fall. Riley clearly has superior facial hair game. Riley, is there any advice you can give Spencer to help him out?

Greene: I would say keep the ‘stache. I mean, shoot, I love it.

Torkelson: The ‘stache had hits in it.

Greene: If it has hits, I’ll do a ‘stache too.

Torkelson: I’ll be ugly for hits.

Mayo: Austin Wells said the same exact thing yesterday.

Torkelson: His ‘stache is good.

Mayo: He’s got a legit ‘stache. Alright, imagine for a second that you guys aren’t baseball players. What would the two of you want to be doing? I would assume it would be together at this point.

Greene: I’d probably be a lifeguard or a firefighter or something.

Torkelson: We were shagging BP the other day and I was like, “If I didn’t play baseball, I think I’d be a firefighter.” Just because I feel like you’re always with the team. It’s a team thing and when you’re not on call, you’re just hanging out with the boys and that’s what we like to do.

Mayo: There are some similarities there, that’s a good point. Which one of you gets to Detroit first?

Torkelson: I don’t know, not going to say that. We’re going to work as hard as we can, we’ll see what happens.

Mayo: What would it be like if say the stars align and you guys get called up together?

Torkelson: It’d be awesome. It’d be really fun to share that with Riley and I’m sure it’d take some pressure off the both of us.

Greene: That’d be the greatest thing. Just being able to go up with him and play our first game together.

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