By Ashley Dunkak
CBS DETROIT – When new Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Shane Greene finally took the field Thursday at Comerica Park, more than 3 1/2 hours after the game’s scheduled start time, he mowed down the Minnesota Twins, allowing four hits and no earned runs over eight innings of work in a 7-1 win.
“He’s got four nasty pitches,” Tigers catcher Alex Avila said. “His stuff is flat-out nasty, and he’s able to command it. When he’s able to command his pitches in the zone, he’ll have a lot of success because his stuff is really good.
“Having faced him last year, catching him during the spring, I’m very excited about his year because he has the potential to be very good,” Avila added. “He was very good last year, and I think as he continues to develop and to figure himself out, he can win a lot of ball games.”
The Tigers traded for Greene this offseason, so Thursday was his debut for Detroit. Before he could get it started, however, he would have to wait … and wait … and wait some more.
“They would say we had this much time, and then it would rain, so then we didn’t have it, so it was constantly back and forth,” Avila said. “He probably got mentally prepared a few times today.”
Greene physically prepared a few times as well.
“I tied my cleats four different times before I went out there,” Greene said.
The pitcher had some nerves early in the day, but his trepidation dissipated as the hours wore on.
“It tests what you’ve got mentally, for sure,” Greene said, “but I was all right.
“I watched golf a little bit, I ate a little bit,” Greene added. “You do your best to kind of get unlocked. I was pretty locked in, thinking the game was going to start at one, and then the last thing you can do is try to stay locked in that whole time, so I just completely forgot about the game, hung out, joked around with the guys, kept it loose and then once I knew the game time I locked it back in.”
Even with the diversion of his teammates, Greene compared the tedium of the wait to watching paint dry.
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus liked what he saw when Greene at long last took the mound.
“He’s got very good stuff,” Ausmus said. “If he can throw strikes and keep his ball down in the zone, especially his sinker, he’ll be in great shape. He was outstanding.
“It was mostly his sinker and cutter, were probably his best pitches, although his changeup was outstanding to some of the left-handed hitters,” Ausmus added. “That was a point of emphasis in spring training was for him to use that changeup, and he got a number outs on it, he got a number of swings and misses on it.”
Greene’s performance rounded out an exemplary first series by the team’s starting pitchers in particular. On Opening Day, David Price allowed no earned runs and lasted 8 2/3 innings. In the second game of the series, Anibal Sanchez lasted 6 2/3 and allowed no earned runs. Greene did the same over eight innings.
“People say hitting’s contagious,” Greene said, “but I think pitching is just as contagious.”
Avila, who as a veteran of the organization has seen more than his share of talented rotations, concurred.
“When you see your teammates, your other starters go out there and have good games, it’s a competition between those guys, not so much that they want to one-up them, but they want to pitch as well as them to give your team a chance to win,” Avila said. “That’s a healthy competition between your starters that you want to have.”