“Now we go,” Spencer Torkelson says.
It’s an oft-used phrase by the Tigers’ rookie slugger, sometimes on social media, sometimes in interviews. Some of his teammates have brought it up when talking about him.
“It’s pretty service-level,” he explained Wednesday. It’s just like, ‘Now we go,’ you know?”
Torkelson’s pro career has kind of followed that. At each of his Minor League stops, he generally had an adjustment period. After a 1-for-27, 16-strikeout Spring Training in 2021, he singled in his second pro game last year for High-A West Michigan, but he went 1-for-16 with 10 strikeouts in his first four games for the Whitecaps.
He went 9-for-50 with 14 walks and 18 strikeouts over his first 14 games before he hit his first pro home run. He batted .424 (25-for-59) with five homers over his next 17 games before being promoted to Double-A Erie.
He was struggling to keep his average over .200 a few weeks in with the SeaWolves until another tear led to his promotion to Triple-A Toledo, where he went 4-for-28 over his first seven games before hitting his first home run as a Mud Hen.
So maybe it figured that Torkelson ended his 0-for-10 start to 2022 with his first Major League hit on Tuesday, then he slugged his first big league homer the next day as part of his first multihit performance.
“I think Tork will be fine,” Hinch deadpanned.
Torkelson said he wasn’t worried, either. The key was he had remained patient during that stretch, maintaining his plate discipline and declining to chase pitches out of the zone.
That’s the lesson Torkelson learned from his early struggles last year. He had four called third strikes during his 0-for-10 start, one of them arguably off the plate, but he wasn’t getting himself out.
“I learned to trust myself,” he said. “Going through last year really helped me stay the course, respect the baseball gods. They were testing me a little bit, but you just keep the same energy, keep the same course and it’ll find its way.”
Still, he admits, as he sent a Rich Hill fastball into right-center field on Tuesday afternoon, he was hoping.
“I was yelling at the ball,” he said, “like, ‘Get down! Get down!’ Yeah, it felt good.”