Detroit Tigers’ Robbie Grossman criticizes Comerica Park, thinks he found fix to power outage

Detroit Free Press

Detroit Tigers outfielder Robbie Grossman didn’t share any secrets, but he is trying something new at the plate.

Well, something old that’s new again.

Everything revolves around Comerica Park.

“I tried to make some adjustments because of the park we play in,” Grossman said Sunday, after hitting his second home run in as many days. “It didn’t work for me. I had to go to back to who I was before.”

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Grossman never complained about the spacious Comerica Park during the 2021 season, a career year in which he launched 23 home runs and stole 20 bases. The 32-year-old, who hadn’t hit more than 11 homers until last year, expressed his desire to spend the rest of his career in Detroit.

But in 2022, Grossman blamed the baseballs for his inability to slug, then he blamed the Comerica Park. The Tigers signed him to a two-year, $10 million deal in January 2021, so this is the final season of his contract.

“He doesn’t need confidence,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “He’s always been confident. I think he needs to see success. Every player wants to feel better about themselves and take a couple big swings in some big moments.”

He played 49 games without a home run, hitting .191 with a .291 on-base percentage through Friday. Since then, Grossman is hitting .400 (6-for-15) with two home runs, three walks and five strikeouts in four games.

A stint on the injured list with a June 10 return may have helped him reset.

Grossman, a switch-hitter, homered from the right side of the plate in the first inning of Saturday’s 14-7 win over the Texas Rangers at Comerica Park and from the left side in the first inning of Sunday’s 7-3 victory in the series finale.

He is 1-for-8 with one walk and three strikeouts in two games against the Boston Red Sox.

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Entering this season, the 10-year MLB veteran — who avoided explaining the details of the mechanical adjustments to his swing — decided to elevate the ball less. He aimed to hit more line drives, maybe looking to add more doubles and triples to the back of his baseball card. He didn’t give a clear reason.

The results?

No home runs.

“I was trying to do some other things to become better,” Grossman said. “I realized I had to go back to who I was before.”

Now, Grossman is trying to elevate the ball as much as possible.

That’s what led to his success in 2021. He credited hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh and assistant hitting coach Mike Hessman for putting in extra work with him in the batting cages.

“He’s getting his A-swing off a little bit,” Hinch said. “Maybe some of that is a psychology adjustment. It doesn’t have to be a mechanical adjustment on the field. … But there’s a couple tweaks.”

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Indeed, Comerica Park has a psychological effect on hitters. The dimensions are daunting: 345 feet in left field, 370 feet in left-center field, 420 feet in center field, 365 feet in right-center field and 330 feet in right field.

“Even as a visiting player, I didn’t like coming here,” Grossman said. “I just need to be me and continue to do what makes me a good player.”

Other players, such as former Tiger Nick Castellanos, have complained about Comerica Park’s spacious outfield. New York Yankees star Aaron Judge, for example, would have 20 home runs — instead of an MLB-leading 25 homers — if he played every game in Comerica Park.

“It’s pretty well documented,” Grossman said.

But in 2021, Grossman hit 12 of his career-high 23 home runs at Comerica Park, along with 14 of his 23 doubles and all three of his triples. He slugged .456 at home and .378 on the road.

Both of his home runs — and all 16 RBIs — in 2022 have occurred at Comerica Park, where he is slugging .318 in 32 games compared to .214 in 21 games at ballparks on the road.

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If Grossman played every game so far this season in all 30 ballparks, he would have at most four home runs at Angel Stadium of Anaheim (Los Angeles Angels) and Globe Life Field (Texas Rangers). He would have three home runs in 20 ballparks, including Comerica Park, and two home runs in eight parks.

Comerica Park, based on the analytics, hasn’t been unfair to Grossman, meaning his performance could be a product of his emotions. To find a fix, Grossman shifted his focus away from the ballpark.

He just thinks about getting the ball in the air as high as possible.

“I just had to get mechanically right and get back to what I was doing last year,” said Grossman, hitting .209 in 53 games. “And not worrying about where I play. Just getting back to who I am.”

Contact Evan Petzold at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

More online: Tuesday’s game at Fenway Park ended after this edition went to print. Visit freep.com/sports for the game result.

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