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Tigers' Riley Greene, Tarik Skubal selected to play in MLB's All-Star Game

Portrait of Chris McCosky Chris McCosky
The Detroit 萝莉少女

Detroit 鈥 Both Riley Greene and Tarik Skubal tried to ho-hum the All-Star selection process. It鈥檇 be cool to go, both said, but it would also be cool to go home for a couple of days and relax.

The hug belied all of that.

When manager AJ Hinch assembled the team in the visitors鈥 clubhouse at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati before the series finale Sunday and delivered the news that both players had been selected to represent the Tigers in the Midsummer Classic in Texas on July 16, the room erupted in cheers that overwhelmed both players.

Tigers outfielder Riley Greene earned his first All-Star Game selection Sunday.

鈥淭hat was awesome,鈥 Greene said. 鈥淲e hugged each other. That was a pretty cool moment.鈥

The selections of Greene, 23, and Skubal, 27, marks the first time since 2016 (Miguel Cabrera) that the Tigers had players selected by a vote of the players and coaches throughout the American League. All the representative since 2016 had been picked by Major League Baseball.

It's the first All-Star nod for each.

鈥淚t鈥檒l be one of the biggest stages both Tarik and Riley have ever been on,鈥 Hinch said. 鈥淏ecause of the attention, the fanfare, the red carpet and just your peers. I remember standing in front of the group in 2018 when I got to manage the All-Star Game, and it takes you aback. Like, I鈥檓 standing in front of a lot of great players with a lot of accomplishments, the biggest and brightest names in the league.

鈥淎nd now Tarik and Riley are among them. It鈥檚 going to hit them probably when they get to that first workout and start looking around.鈥

The teams and players were told of the selections before the game, but the news wasn鈥檛 released to the public until after 5:30 p.m. That made for some awkwardness for Skubal, who started for the Tigers on Sunday.

鈥淵eah, the only difficult part was that it was Skubal鈥檚 start day,鈥 Hinch said with a smile. 鈥淵ou don鈥檛 mess with Tarik on his start day. But even he could crack a smile and be happy with the news.鈥

Skubal got the word in the morning then channeled his emotions and energy into a masterful, career-best 13-strikeout performance as the Tigers finished off the sweep of the Reds, 5-1.

"It means a lot," he said. "The players voted in the end and it's cool to get that recognition, not only from the fans but from the players that play in this league. It's pretty special. And for it be my first one and get to enjoy it with Greeney, his first one, too, I really look forward to it."

Greene seemed happier about the news for his family than for himself.

鈥淭hey鈥檙e going to be so excited,鈥 Greene said. 鈥淭hey were all talking about it before the start of the season. I was like, 鈥楪uys, we haven't even started the season yet.鈥 They鈥檙e going to be excited and they鈥檙e going to be proud.鈥

Greene more than earned his All-Star nod. Entering the game Sunday, he ranked fourth among American League outfielders in OPS (.863), on-base percentage (.358) and slugging percentage (.505). He ranked fifth in home runs (17) and RBIs (45).

He's also a plus-8 defensive runs saved, third-best among A.L. left fielders.

鈥淚t鈥檚 awesome,鈥 Greene said about being selected. 鈥淏ut I just think being named an All-Star shows you are doing the right thing and you are helping your team win and you鈥檙e playing well. It鈥檚 just an honor that shows what you鈥檝e been doing.鈥

Tigers starting pitcher Tarik Skubal, before Sunday, ranked second among American League starting pitchers in WHIP (0.93) and third in ERA (2.45), opponent batting average (.200) and strikeouts (119). He was fifth in pitcher WAR (3.9).

Skubal, before Sunday, ranked second among American League starting pitchers in WHIP (0.93) and third in ERA (2.45), opponent batting average (.200) and strikeouts (119). He was fifth in pitcher WAR (3.9).

"You want to be consistent in this game," Skubal said. "The focus is doing it again in five days and then five days after that. Those are the guys who dominate year in and year out. As cool as it's been to do that for a year, my focus is doing it again in five days."

Pretty good day for the Tigers organization, too, seeing two players they drafted and developed selected to play in the All-Star Game.

鈥淭his organization developed these guys and they are the ones who went out and did it,鈥 Hinch said. 鈥淭hey earned the nod to be in an exclusive group. It鈥檚 very rewarding because neither of their journeys have been perfect.鈥

Both were fast-tracked to the big leagues, Skubal drafted in 2018, Greene a year later. And both overcame serious injuries.

鈥淏oth players continue to get better,鈥 Hinch said. 鈥淏oth have been incredibly coachable. They both put in the work. These are not two guys who just show up and expect to be good. They expect to be good because they prepare to be good.

鈥淭his is hopefully just the start for them in terms of getting the national exposure they deserve.鈥

Hinch was also holding out some hope Sunday that two other players might be in the mix if American League manager Bruce Bochy needs to add some pitching replacements for selected pitchers who would be unavailable to pitch.

鈥淵ou look around our group, we have a couple who get to go and we also have a couple that have to be on the next list,鈥 Hinch said. 鈥淚f so, hopefully there鈥檚 a chance for Jack Flaherty and Reese Olson to be considered.鈥

Being selected to the All-Star Game, though, also involves a quick change in plans.

鈥淚 was going to surprise my parents and show up at home,鈥 Greene said. 鈥淏ut now I have another surprise for them.鈥

chris.mccosky@detroitnews.com

@cmccosky