Riley Greene could join the Detroit Tigers soon.
But their toughest loss may have come one week before Opening Day, when Riley Greene broke his foot in a spring training contest against the New York Yankees. Greene was arguably Detroit’s best player in spring, going 9-for-21 with seven extra-base hits and three walks in 11 games.
His injury left the Tigers scrambling for outfield help, which led to the Austin Meadows trade. If Greene stays healthy it’s hard to picture the Tigers trading for Meadows, who had been steady before his unfortunate trip to the Injured List with vertigo.
It’s also hard not to wonder what this season would look like if Greene had been in the lineup every day. He would have had his struggles, like Spencer Torkelson has. Like all rookies do.
But there’s a reason we’ve ranked him as the number one prospect in the Detroit Tigers system for the past two years. We think Riley Greene is a better pure hitter than Spencer Torkelson, with equivalent raw power and more defensive value.
So it comes as great news that Riley Greene is well along the road to recovery.
Evan Petzold’s article in the Free Press includes more specific details:
"The 21-year-old will play center field Friday for five innings and serve as the designated hitter Saturday for nine innings. After Saturday’s game, barring any setbacks, the top prospect will travel Sunday to join Triple-A Toledo.Greene is expected to be in the Mud Hens’ lineup for Monday’s game against Triple-A Columbus in Columbus, Ohio. He is slated to play Monday, Wednesday and Thursday (Tuesday is an off day for Toledo)."
Toledo’s series against Columbus runs through Sunday, June 5th, but the plan for Greene ends conspicuously on Thursday. It’s possible Riley Green will make his MLB debut on Friday, June 3rd, in Yankee Stadium, against probable starter Gerrit Cole.
That would be rather fitting, too, as Cole was the last pitcher Greene faced in spring training. Fans may recall Greene’s final spring at-bat, when he fell behind 1-2 to Cole, fouled two consecutive pitches off his foot (probably the source of the break), and then crushed a changeup 404 feet for a triple.
While that would all make for a nice story, Greene would be facing MLB pitching after just 20-25 rehab plate appearances. He’s Riley Greene, so maybe that’s enough, but the Detroit Tigers might be better off giving him one more week with the Mud Hens.
If that’s the case, he could make his debut June 10th against the Toronto Blue Jays, in front of a Comerica Park likely buzzing with excited Tigers fans and rowdy Canadians. Whenever Riley Greene returns, it will be reason for baseball fans to celebrate.