DETROIT, Mich. (WOOD) — Taking his first steps out of the dugout onto the field at Comerica Park as his name was called brought Spencer Torkelson to the reality of the situation.

After a terrible spring in 2021, working his way through the ups and downs of the minors last season and now making a Major League Baseball debut, this was the moment he simply couldn’t wait for.

Yet, with his family watching in a sold out crowd of 43,480 people, the most for the Tigers since Opening Day in 2017, Torkelson had to calm the moment.

“I had to remember how to walk for a second,” Torkelson said with a laugh. “When I told my parents it was a little emotional, but today was like the ‘ahh-haa’ moment, I’m here, I’m at the big leagues.”

While Torkelson did go hitless today, he proved on the defensive side of the ball he was ready for the MLB pace of play.

In the second inning, shortstop Javier Baez made a heck of a play by sliding to get a ball and gunning it across the diamond to get the out. What was less noticed on the play was Torkelson’s ability to scoop the ball up on a short hop while stretching out and keeping his foot on the base.

A couple of frames later, the Tigers needed outs while already down 3-0. A ball was launched in his direction and with a quick reaction, he dove to his left and stabbed the line drive for an out. It helped keep his team in the game.

The Tigers would go on to win the game with plenty of late inning heroics. Miguel Cabrera tied the game in the bottom of the eighth inning with a two-RBI single to right field. After Andrew Vaughnn gave the White Sox back the lead in the top of the ninth on a solo home run, Eric Haase had the equalizer with one out in the bottom of the ninth — a moonshot to left field that carried 20 rows deep.

To put the final touches on the victory for Detroit, it was Baez ripping a ball off the right field wall for a walk-off single, one that had to be reviewed to see if it was caught before it hit the wall.

Once the Tigers saw the replay, Torkelson got to experience what a walk-off celebration is like in the majors in game one.

“I thought (A.J. Pollock) made a hell of a play and I was like ‘alright, lets go to the 10th,’” Torkelson said. “Then we saw the replay and we just exploded. It was so much fun.”

“Thank you, Javy. Thank you for getting it done,” he said.

For Torkelson, batting eighth in the batting order isn’t something he’s used to. Playing at all three levels of the minors last season, he hit .267 with 30 home runs and 91 runs driven in in just 431 at bats.

When he was at Arizona State, he broke Barry Bonds’ home run record for the school. He was the number one overall pick in the 2020 draft.

At all of the levels he has played, Torkelson has been, essentially, the star, or at least one of the more talked-about players. 

Today, he had a different role — one he says he is ready to take on for this Detroit team in 2022. In just one game, he watched veterans who have been doing it for a while perform in the clutch, something he finds valuable. 

Most importantly, it’s a culture he’s excited to be a part of.

“It speaks to what Detroit is all about,” Torkelson said. “We got punched in the mouth early, grinded through at-bats and got the job done at the end of the day.”

“That’s what it’s all about,” said Torkelson.