Rookie roast: Tigers take Starbucks by storm

Detroit Tigers

SEATTLE — Tigers pitchers Eduardo Rodriguez and Andrew Chafin were sitting in the visiting clubhouse on Wednesday morning at T-Mobile Park when one asked the other if he wanted coffee. They agreed, and Rodriguez said to send the rookies to get it.

Minutes later, Tigers rookies and second-year players — about half the roster on a young Detroit ballclub — were walking out of the ballpark and down First Avenue in full uniform, led by a giddy Miguel Cabrera, looking for a Starbucks they were told was just a few blocks away but ended up more like a 10-minute walk as they checked their cell phones.

“Rookie initiations have changed over the years,” manager A.J. Hinch said as he waited for his tall vanilla latte with almond milk.

The Tigers had apparently discussed making a coffee run like this back at Comerica Park on Sunday, but the combination of players busy packing up their stuff and traffic downtown — the Lions played across the street that day — made it impractical. Rodriguez and Chafin revived the idea on a spur of the moment in Seattle on the final day of the season.

It ended up arguably being funnier on the road as Seattle residents going about their Wednesday morning tried to figure out why Riley Greene, Spencer Torkelson, Akil Baddoo and others were walking down the sidewalk away from the ballpark.

A couple of cars honked as they drove by. Fellow pedestrians grabbed their cell phones for pictures. Players posed for pictures with people at the Starbucks.

“You guys have your hands full today,” one passerby told them, either referring to the Mariners team they were facing Wednesday or the massive coffee order that filled a page of paper.

Nobody enjoyed it more than Cabrera, who strutted into the coffee shop and sat down at a corner table as he waited for his teammates to get his order.

“We are rookies,” Cabrera joked to a passerby as they walked down the street.

Hinch remembers being a rookie on the Oakland A’s and having to serve food and drinks on the team plane while holding a football and wearing an Oakland Raiders helmet, a difficult task for a Denver Broncos fan.

Understandably, he told players to be back at a reasonable time. But he also let them have their fun.

“I made my order as complicated as possible,” Hinch said.

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