Make no mistake, Detroit Tigers president of baseball operations Scott Harris has been eager about middle fielder Riley Greene — a budding star and arguably the way forward for the franchise — this offseason.
Harris had Greene, the 2019 No. 5 general choose, on his thoughts all through the analysis course of for changes to the outfield dimensions at Comerica Park, particularly when conversations in regards to the top of the partitions had been going down.
One of the targets is to create extra thrilling defensive performs for followers (and for Greene).
“The wall top and Riley Greene are associated,” Harris mentioned Jan. 11. “He’s fairly good at robbing house runs, and I believe a 7-foot wall goes to give him extra alternative to rob house runs and assist our pitchers out.”
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Before the 2023 season, the Tigers will transfer within the center-field fence 10 ft, from 422 ft to 412 ft, and drop the peak of that wall from 8½ ft to 7 ft. The wall in right-center area will decrease from 13 ft to 7 ft, and the wall in proper area will decrease from 8½ ft to 7 ft.
The top of the fences will measure 7 ft across the complete ballpark.
“I really feel prefer it’s a very good factor that the fences had been lowered,” Greene mentioned Monday on WXYT-FM (97.1). “There’s nonetheless going to be a variety of room on the market, so I’ll positively nonetheless have a variety of time to get to the ball. I simply really feel like I’ve a manner higher shot (of robbing house runs) with a 7- foot fence. It’s positively going to be a bit of simpler to rise up there on a 7-foot wall.”
Greene robbed his first (and solely) house run at Comerica Park on July 13, 2020, in an intrasquad sport earlier than the COVID-shortened season. A ridiculous catch in left area, the place the peak of the wall has all the time been 7 ft, took a homer away from slugger CJ Cron.
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Less than two years later, Greene made his MLB debut on June 18, 2022 at Comerica Park.
Three months after that, on Sept. 25, Greene hustled to the warning monitor and accomplished a leaping catch to rob White Sox first baseman Andrew Vaughn of a house run within the fourth inning at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago.
The ball traveled 405 ft to left-center area and had a .810 anticipated batting common. At Guaranteed Rate Field, the peak of the outfield wall is 8 ft.
“Robbing a house run is likely one of the most electrical performs in baseball,” Harris mentioned. “The decrease wall heights are going to permit our followers to see extra of that. The new padding and the brand new development of a number of the partitions are hopefully going to cut back damage charges. Walls are high-impact areas, and we really feel like we are able to do a greater job of enhancing participant security.”
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As a rookie final season, Greene — who turned 22 in late September — collected a number of diving catches to take away doubles and triples within the gaps. He ranked within the seventy fifth percentile for outfielder leap, 71st percentile for outs above common, 67th percentile for arm power and 59th percentile for dash pace.
(For comparability, new Tigers outfielder Matt Vierling ranked within the fifth percentile for outfielder leap, forty seventh percentile for outs above common, eightieth percentile for arm power and 97th percentile for spring pace.)
Many of Greene’s epic diving catches, a product of his pre-pitch preparation and outfield leap, occurred in Comerica Park’s spacious outfield. (Before every sport, he would work on his outfield jumps throughout batting follow.)
“It’s a very good factor and a foul factor in my view as a result of you’ll be able to positively get damage diving,” Greene mentioned. “But I’m simply enjoying as exhausting as I can. I’m working for that man on the mound. He’s working his butt off, and the least I can do is get a bit of soiled and make a play for him. That’s what I take into consideration on the market.”
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At the plate, Greene hit .253 with 5 house runs, 36 walks and 120 strikeouts over 93 video games. A damaged foot in spring coaching delayed his MLB debut greater than two months. Both Greene and the Tigers anticipate higher in 2023.
After all, he hit .301 with 24 homers throughout 124 video games between Double-A Erie (84 video games) and Triple-A Toledo (40 video games) within the minor leagues in 2021. He continued his tear by hitting .429 with two homers throughout 11 video games in final 12 months’s spring coaching earlier than the damage.
“I used to be feeling fairly good in spring coaching,” Greene mentioned. “I used to be prepared to go. It’s exhausting to really feel good, and you then’re not enjoying. It was robust, however mentally, it was good for me. It made me a greater baseball participant now. Whatever occurred, occurred, however I I’m prepared for this season. I’m prepared to go.”
Contact Evan Petzold at email@example.com or observe him on Twitter@EvanPetzold.