A first taste of Opening Day at Comerica Park
DETROIT — Opening Day is an event unmatched in Detroit.
For four Tigers, it will be a first — and unforgettable — experience.
Nick Castellanos, Evan Reed and Luke Putkonen have already made their major-league debuts, but they’ve never experienced Opening Day with the Tigers.
"I remember my first Opening Day, and I remember how excited guys were throughout my career when they made a team for the first time on Opening Day," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "A lot of people don’t get to experience it. It’s something they should enjoy."
Then there’s outfielder Tyler Collins, who had an inkling but officially found out he made the team Saturday.
"It’s extremely exciting," said Collins, who played with Double-A Erie last season. "It’s everybody’s dream. You grow up a little kid, you say, ‘Oh, I want to play in the big leagues.’
"When you do get there, it’s just a blessing."
Torii Hunter has played in plenty of Opening Days, including a few at Comerica Park as both a visitor and as a Tiger.
"I’m excited for him," Hunter said of Collins. "I was that guy once, and that’s something that I’ll never forget.
"It’s a moment that he’ll never forget, when they call his name out tomorrow, 1 o’clock. I definitely think he might have a tear in his eye or he might be throwing up in the bathroom. We’ll see what happens."
Not only is it Collins’ first Opening Day, it’s his first time above Double-A.
"Just excitement, disbelief," Collins said. "It didn’t really hit me. It still kind of hasn’t. I think (Monday) it will for sure. I’m kind of living in a dream right now."
Yet Collins was pragmatic when asked what he expected from Opening Day.
"A victory," he said. "You’re here to win games, and you’re here to play ball and play as hard as you can. That’s my main focus — to help win as many games as I can help win."
Castellanos, the only one of the four guaranteed to play Monday, has been to Opening Days as a kid in Miami to see the Marlins, but this is his first in Detroit.
"I heard that here it’s kind of like a holiday," Castellanos said. "I’m very excited to see how it’s going to be."
Reed has never been to any Opening Day, other than in the minor leagues.
"I’m really, really excited about it," he said. "Since I was kid, I’ve never been to Opening Day. I lived too far away to go to any Opening Day stadiums.
"This is my first Opening Day roster, so I can’t really put into words my excitement for (Monday)."
Reed has pitched in 16 major-league games, half of them at Comerica Park, so he has an idea of what to expect.
"The fans around here are amazing," Reed said. "The city loves this team, and that’s why we love the fans. I just can’t wait to experience it.
"I don’t really have any expectations because I know there’s going to be energy in the air. It’s like my first time at Fenway. You can talk about it, but until you actually feel it, there’s a difference."
Like Hunter, Monday won’t be Joe Nathan’s first Opening Day, but he’ll wearing a Tigers uniform for the first time in a game that counts. Nathan will also be watching the young players going through it for the first time.
"I think you hear about it all the time, the energy that young guys bring," Nathan said. "It’s always exciting when a guy like TC comes up and just impresses everybody with the way he’s gone about his business — playing the game very hard and just looked awesome in spring.
"To see guys like him, Evan Reed and Luke make the squad and see their excitement, you can’t help but get energized by them."
Reed and his fellow newbies plan to take their manager’s advice and enjoy all of it.
"I can’t wait to take it all in, see what it’s all about, feel that energy and excitement," Reed said. "It’ll be great."