Recalling Each of the Current Detroit Tigers’ First MLB Hits

Detroit Tigers center fielder Riley Greene singles in the first inning against the Texas Rangers at Comerica Park. (Photo: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)
Detroit Tigers center fielder Riley Greene singles in the first inning against the Texas Rangers at Comerica Park. (Photo: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Motor City Bengals would like to congratulate Riley Greene of the Detroit Tigers on his first major league hit. It was a single in the first inning of his debut on June 18, 2022. How does that compare to his teammates’ first MLB hits?

Whether it happens right away or takes a little while, it’s always exciting when a rookie gets his first hit as a major leaguer. Now that Riley Greene has added his name to the MLB hit list, let’s recall how each of his current Detroit Tigers teammates (and some 40-man roster teammates on the injured list) got their first hits. These milestone knocks are listed in chronological order, which means that we start with the man that radio color commentator Jim Price often refers to as “The Big Man”.

Miguel Cabrera

The first of the 3,047 hits that Cabrera has collected through June 18, 2022, was one for the ages. In his MLB debut, the 20-year-old left fielder (yes, left fielder) batted eighth (yes, eighth) for the Florida Marlins on June 20, 2003. Tampa Bay Devil Rays righty Rob Bell will always be able to boast that he struck out a future Hall of Famer in his first at-bat. That happened in the third inning. Bell got Miggy again in the fifth. Against relievers Jesus Colome and Travis Harper, Cabrera grounded into an inning-ending double play in the seventh and grounded back to the mound to end the bottom of the ninth.

Luckily for the Marlins, the game was tied 1-1 after nine. Florida loaded the bases in the 10th but failed to push the winning run across. Cabrera got one more shot with two outs in the bottom of the 11th.  Alex Gonzalez (who would briefly be Miggy’s teammate again in Detroit in 2014) had doubled ahead of him. Miguelito stepped in against righty Al Levine. He blasted Levine’s first pitch to deep center field. It was long gone. Cabrera’s walk-off home run gave the Marlins a 3-1 win over their in-state rivals.

Michael Pineda

Now that the National League has finally implemented the designated hitter, the hashtag #PitchersWhoRake is a relic of the past. That means that the man known as “Big Mike” will likely finish his big-league career with just one hit. That happened on June 23, 2011. The 22-year-old right-hander was the Seattle Mariners’ starting pitcher against the Washington Nationals. For most of the game, he was engaged in a tight duel with the Nationals’ Jason Marquis. There was no score when Pineda singled off Marquis in the top of the sixth. Pineda made it as far as third base before being stranded. A walk-off hit gave Washington a 1-0 win, but neither Pineda nor Marquis was around at that point.

Wily Peralta

Peralta made a lone appearance for the Milwaukee Brewers in April 2012 and returned later that season as a September call-up. On September 16, the 23-year-old right-handed pitcher made his third big-league start. In the bottom of the seventh against the New York Mets, he lined a double deep to right. It would’ve been an RBI-double, but teammate Jean Segura had gotten picked off of first base while Peralta was batting. On the mound, the rookie was solid that afternoon. He gave up only two hits and walked one while striking out five in eight innings. The Brewers shut the Mets out, 3-0.

Robbie Grossman

Grossman hit leadoff for the Houston Astros at in his big-league debut on April 24, 2013. In his second at-bat, in the bottom of the third, the 23-year-old center fielder doubled into the right-field corner off Seattle Mariners lefty Joe Saunders. The ball bounced into the seats for a ground-rule double. Grossman doubled off Saunders again to lead off the fifth inning. He came around to score on Brandon Laird’s double. That put Houston up, 5-0, and the Astros cruised to a 10-3 win in front of their hometown fans.

Jonathan Schoop

In a battle of the birds, Schoop joined the Baltimore Orioles to face Toronto Blue Jays on September 25, 2013. The 21-year-old second baseman debuted as Baltimore’s eighth-place hitter. In his first at-bat, in the bottom of the third, Schoop hit the ball hard for a single up the middle off righty Esmil Rogers. He then scored on teammate Ryan Flaherty’s two-run homer. Schoop’s second hit was even sweeter. Leading off the sixth, he greeted incoming reliever Kyle Drabek with a long home run over Camden Yards’ center-field wall. Schoop also walked and scored in the eighth. The Orioles flew past the Blue Jays, 9-5.

Tucker Barnhart

Barnhart went hitless in first two games as a major leaguer, although he didn’t get a plate appearance in the second one. Third time was the charm, though. The 23-year-old Cincinnati Reds catcher lined a single to right off the New York Mets’ Dillon Gee in the third inning on April 5, 2014. It was fielded by former Tiger Curtis Granderson. Barnhart followed that up with a pop fly to short right-center that dropped in for a hit. He didn’t score in the Reds’ 6-3 loss.

Detroit Tigers
Tucker Barnhart of the Cincinnati Reds connects on a third inning single against the New York Mets, his first in the major leagues, on April 5, 2014. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

Javier Báez

Báez was one of the top prospects in the Chicago Cubs organization when he was called up to the majors in the summer of 2014. The 21-year-old second baseman went 0-5 with three strikeouts through the first 10 innings of his debut on August 5. The game against the Colorado Rockies kept on going, however. Báez led off the top of the 12th inning and jumped on the first pitch he saw from lefty Boone Logan. His home run to right-center made the difference in the Cubs’ 6-5 win.

Andrew Chafin

Chafin, the Tigers’ shaggy-haired reliever, began his MLB career as a starting pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks. On September 17, 2014, he and the D’backs were hosting the San Francisco Giants. In the bottom half, the 24-year-old rookie stepped to the plate against San Fran ace Madison Baumgarner. This was Chafin’s first big-league plate appearance. He didn’t get to bat in his debut, an interleague game in an American League ballpark. Although Chafin is a left-hander on the mound, he was batting right-handed.

With two outs and runners on the corner, Chafin tagged Baumgarner for a single to right that drove in former Tiger Cody Ross with the tying run. “Mad Bum”, a pretty good hitter for a pitcher, returned the favor when he led off the third inning with a single off Chafin. After striking out in the fourth, Chafin finished the season with a .500 batting average. He’s since had three hitless at-bats.

Detroit Tigers
The baby-faced and short-haired 2014 Andrew Chafin may look unrecognizable to Detroit Tigers fans in 2022. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Jeimer Candelario

The Chicago Cubs were getting blown out by the New York Mets, 11-1, when Candelario batted for the third time in the top of the seventh on July 3, 2016. Candelario was 0-for-2 with a pair of inning-ending strikeouts against the Mets’ big righty, Noah Syndergaard. Leading off this inning, the 22-year-old third baseman’s bat found a hole on the right side of the infield. Candy’s single off Thor into right was fielded by former Tiger Curtis Granderson. Javier Báez, who became Candelario’s teammate once again in Detroit this year, singled him to second. The Chicago threat fizzled out, though, and New York won a 14-3 laugher.

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