Detroit Tigers have plan to protect Riley Greene’s health coming out of All-Star break

Detroit Free Press

Riley Greene could one day become a mainstay for the Detroit Tigers at a corner outfield position.

He plays aggressively in center field as a young player, and while that style is appreciated by teammates and coaches, the chance of an injury feels less risky on the corners.

For now, the Tigers will keep Greene in center.

But the Tigers will be proactive in their protection of the 22-year-old Greene coming out of the All-Star break, likely until the end of July. He has played two games in his return from a stress reaction in his left fibula.

“The biggest change for Riley post-break will be the inclusion of the (designated hitter) for him,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said, “just as a proactive way to get him back into game shape, and some scheduled days off.”

Greene, the 2019 No. 5 overall pick, understands the plan: center field, designated hitter and scheduled games on the bench. He is hitting .305 with six home runs, 23 walks and 66 strikeouts in 54 games this season. He has a .835 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.

“I feel like it’s not going to be a problem,” Greene said of Hinch’s plan. “He’s taking it slow with me, which I appreciate, so I’m just going to try to do whatever I can to help the team, whether that’s DH or the outfield.”

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Greene missed nearly 40 days on the injured list, beginning May 31.

He returned last Saturday-Sunday and went 4-for-7 with one home run, two walks and two strikeouts against the Toronto Blue Jays.

“I feel pretty normal,” Greene said.

Greene played three games in his rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo, and in his second game finished 5-for-5 for the first time in his professional career.

The hits were important, but more importantly, Greene spent the entire game running the bases. He tested his left leg from the onset when he slid into second base in the first inning.

“It made me feel confident about it,” Greene said. “That was my big issue, the mental side of it because you want to favor it sometimes because you think you’re going to re-injure it, or if you cut really hard, maybe that’s going to do something to it. It was really getting past the mental side of it, and I feel like that really helped me do it.”

In his Tigers return, Greene started at designated hitter Saturday and in center field Sunday. The Tigers coming out of the All-Star break take on the Seattle Mariners (Friday-Sunday) and Kansas City Royals (Monday-Thursday) in a seven-game, two-city road trip.

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Greene probably won’t play all seven games.

But the restrictions won’t last forever.

“The reality of this type of injury, coming back from this type of injury is exaggerated by the pounding of playing every single day and being on your feet every single day,” Hinch said. “We’re going to have to pick and choose some time in that first week to 10 days after the break to alleviate some of that fear.”

Contact Evan Petzold at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

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