Torkelson laughing off his mishaps in camp: 'The boys were hungry'


For Spencer Torkelson, spring training has been like everything and nothing he envisioned.

He gets to watch Miguel Cabrera hit every day. He gets to work with Alan Trammell on his skills at third base. He gets to work with Tigers hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh on his approach at the plate.

"It’s great," Torkelson said Thursday. "Finally getting used to waking up a little earlier than I’m used to, but it’s a great time. To be able to play baseball every day is a privilege. Riley and Jake are great roommates. Spring training is exactly what I thought it would be like."

Then again, did he expect to be the main victim of A.J. Hinch during team meetings a week into camp? First Torkelson sliced his finger in a kitchen accident at the house he's sharing with Riley Greene and Jake Rogers. Then he tumbled over first base during a base-running drill. In the spirit of keeping things light, Hinch has enjoyed putting the first overall pick on blast in front of his teammates.

Has Torkelson returned fire?

"I’m not there yet," he said with a smile. "I deserved it. I took some heat in some meetings, but it was all in good spirits and I think we’re past that now."

OK, but what happened in the kitchen?

"The boys were hungry," Torkelson said, "and I was in charge of dinner that night. I was making this little corn salsa and I had a can of beans to put in it. The Airbnb didn’t have a can opener, so we tried to improvise. We learned our lesson that it’s better to go to Wal-Mart five minutes away and get a can opener."

And what about the tumble?

"I chose the wrong day to wear a brand new pair of plastic spikes on brand new bases. It kind of slipped under me," Torkelson said. "I couldn’t really give myself a break last week, I kind of went through it. But I came back stronger, I promise."

We don't doubt it. Torkelson worked a walk in his first at-bat of the spring, also his first at-bat in a Tigers uniform.

"I felt great up there," he said. "Just took a deep breath, slowed it down and stuck to my old faithful approach, which is trying to stay in the middle of the field, looking for a good pitch to hit and taking your walks."

The No. 1 prospect for the Tigers and No. 3 overall in baseball according to MLB Pipeline, Torkelson is expected to start this season with the High-A West Michigan Whitecaps. Until then, he's coming to camp every day with the same smile and the same mindset.

"My mindset is, you’re trying to make the team," he said. "I know it’s very unlikely, but if my mindset is that I’ll put in the work and I’ll become a better baseball player at every aspect to the game, I feel like that will help me perform at the highest level."