Detroit — The Puerto Rican flag that’s been draped in his locker all season should’ve been a tip-off.
When Riley Greene was asked before Tuesday’s game if he has had any contact from Team USA about playing in the World Baseball Classic next March, he had a puzzled look on his face.
“Um, no,” he said. “I have been contacted by Team Puerto Rico, though. I am Puerto Rican.”
Greene grew up in Oviedo, Florida, but his mother, Lisa, is Puerto Rican.
“They contacted me a bit ago,” Greene said of Team Puerto Rico, which is being put together by Eduardo Perez. “I’m just kind of trying to decide. I haven’t agreed to anything yet. That’s all I want to say about it because nothing is official.”
The Tigers could have three players playing for Puerto Rico. Shortstop Javier Báez has already committed and reliever Joe Jimenez, who played in the 2017 Classic, is waiting for the invite.
“Yeah, I don’t know yet,” Jimenez said. “I haven’t heard anything. If they call me, I will go. It was a great experience for me.”
Although the WBC takes players away from their big-league teams in the heart of spring training, Tigers manager AJ Hinch, a former Olympian, is a huge proponent of the tournament.
“I want all of our guys to play in the WBC,” he said. “I think it’s a tremendous experience. It’s a hat tip to the country they are from and an opportunity to play in an incredible atmosphere that means so much to so many players around the game.
“It’s a difficult time during the spring to compartmentalize that and think about it. But the experience is really unique for the players to get to represent their home country. I’m all for it.”
Time running out
Outfielder Austin Meadows continues to get to the park in the morning, hours before even the earliest-arriving players, and gets put through the paces by the Tigers strength and conditioning coaches Steve Chase and Matt Rosenhamer.
He’s typically gone before the rest of the team arrives.
“He’s still not ramped up to full activity or full days,” Hinch said. “It’s still unknown where this is going to move forward for him in September.”
The hope was Meadows would be able to restart his rehab assignment sometime in early September and, best case scenario, finish the season with the Tigers, even if for the last couple of weeks.
With each passing week, that’s looking more and more doubtful.
Out with general leg soreness, Meadows has been pulled off his last two rehab stints. The most recent one was Aug. 15 after he played just four games with Toledo.
He’s played in just 36 games for the Tigers this season.
Boyd is back
Former Tigers pitcher Matthew Boyd is with the Mariners and is expected to be activated off the injured list on Thursday.
He had dinner with Daniel Norris on Monday night and bumped into Hinch earlier in the day.
“I saw him in Birmingham,” Hinch said. “I was eating breakfast and he was walking by, by himself. I had him come inside for a coupe of minutes. I asked him who he was going to come in to face on Thursday (laughing).
“I told him I would pinch-hit (Eric) Haase because I remember the alternative site conversations (in 2020).”
Boyd and Haase traveled around the metro Detroit area during the COVID layoff looking for parks and fields to throw at. At the alternate site, Haase, who hits very well against left-handed pitching, had some good swings off Boyd.
“I know he’s excited to come back and pitch,” Hinch siad. “Just how ironic that it could be back in our ballpark.”
Mariners at Tigers
First pitch: 7:10 p.m. Wednesday, Comerica Park, Detroit
LHP Marco Gonzales (9-12, 3.97), Mariners: He went through a rough patch the first part of this month, allowing 14 runs in 16⅓ innings over three starts. He’s been sharper in his last two, allowing two earned runs in 11⅓ innings. He doesn’t throw a pitch firmer than 88 mph but when he’s right, he gets a lot of soft contact.
LHP Tyler Alexander (3-8, 4.83), Tigers: He’s looking to bounce back off the worst outing of his career — seven runs and eight hits in three innings at Texas. His command wasn’t as sharp as it has been and even his well-executed pitches were finding holes or open spaces.