Detroit Tigers' Riley Greene bulks up in offseason, says he's 'ready to go' after surgery

LAKELAND, Fla. — Detroit Tigers outfielder Riley Greene calls Florida his home.

He has lived in Oviedo, a city outside of Orlando, for his entire life.

Greene, who underwent Tommy John surgery on his non-throwing elbow at the end of last season, split his time between two different locations in Florida this offseason. He would drive 15 minutes south to DeLaCruz Sports Performance in Orlando and 80 minutes southwest to the Tigers' spring training facility in Lakeland.

SPRING TRAINING PREVIEW: Javier Báez reports early, six starters for the rotation, more topics to track

Detroit Tigers outfielder Riley Greene speaks to reporters Monday, February 12, 2024, at the spring training facility in Lakeland, Florida.
Detroit Tigers outfielder Riley Greene speaks to reporters Monday, February 12, 2024, at the spring training facility in Lakeland, Florida.

The 23-year-old expects to be ready to play when spring training games begin after undergoing surgery on his right elbow. The surgery was performed Sept. 20, so it would be a 157-day recovery — or five months and one week — if he's in the lineup Feb. 24 against the New York Yankees.

"I'm ready to go," Greene said.

The 2019 No. 5 overall pick is the best hitter in the Tigers' lineup when he is healthy. Three injuries have limited him to 192 games over his first two MLB seasons: a right foot fracture in April 2022, a left fibula stress reaction in May 2023 and a right elbow sprain in September 2023.

Tigers president of baseball operations Scott Harris challenged Greene to transform his body while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery on his non-throwing elbow. The Tigers need Greene to stay healthy throughout the 2024 season.

"We got to make sure that he comes to camp in really, really good shape," Harris said Dec. 5 at the winter meetings. "We have to add some strength to his frame that will insulate him against future injury."

Greene answered the call.

[ MUST LISTEN: Make "Days of Roar" your go-to Detroit Tigers podcast, available anywhere you listen to podcasts (Apple, Spotify) ]

Training with Ben De La Cruz, the founder of the sports performance facility in Orlando, helped Greene add 10 pounds to his body in the offseason. De La Cruz has trained Baltimore Orioles first baseman Ryan Mountcastle for years, along with other elite athletes from Central Florida, but this offseason was the first time Greene visited him for workout sessions.

"He's really good," Greene said of De La Cruz. "He fixed a lot of things. I was tight in my hips, so we fixed that. He trains a bunch of NFL combine guys, so he's really good with running and how the body works with running. I worked with him a lot this offseason."

Greene, who also adjusted his diet, now weighs 220 pounds, up from 210 last season. He feels faster and more explosive with an additional 10 pounds on his body.

The next step is maintaining his health for the entire season.

"We have certain stretches and certain things that I'm aware of," Greene said, "just got to keep doing it every day to keep the body on the field and healthy."

HOW IT HAPPENED: Another injury is concerning, but Tigers' Riley Greene expects to play on Opening Day

As for the right elbow, Greene traveled to the Tigers' facility in Lakeland about three or four times per week for physical therapy with Duncan Evans. The fact that Greene injured his non-throwing elbow allows for a quicker return-to-play timeline from Tommy John surgery, but he still had to regain strength in that part of his right arm.

"I owe a lot to him," Greene said of Evans.

Greene, a left-handed hitter, was cleared to begin his hitting progression Jan. 8 at the Tigers' facility.

His hitting progression started with a fungo bat, which is a lightweight bat typically used for hitting balls to fielders, before transitioning to a regular bat. He has advanced to using a regular bat to take batting practice, but he isn't using a pitching machine yet.

"We progressed into tee work," Greene said, "and then we progressed into flips, and then we progressed into overhand BP. I'm still kind of going through it a little bit, but I'm feeling really good."

LAST SEASON: In May, Riley Greene is carrying the Tigers and finally unlocking pull-side power

The good news is Greene's swing feels normal with 12 days until the first spring training game and 45 days until Opening Day on March 28 against the Chicago White Sox.

The Tigers plan to rotate Greene, a corner outfielder who hit .288 with 11 home runs in 99 games last season, into the open designated hitter spot to ease his return from elbow surgery and protect him from future injuries, but his spot near the top of the batting order should be locked in from the get-go.

"The first couple of swings I took to start the hitting progression went really good," Greene said. "I didn't feel a single thing. I'm still not feeling a single thing. It really feels normal now. I can feel when something is up with my swing, and it feels pretty normal."

Talking with Tarik Skubal

Left-hander Tarik Skubal has lofty expectations for the Tigers in 2024.

He expects to win the American League Central.

"The eyes are set on the division," Skubal said. "Win the division, you get in the playoffs and anything can happen. We've got to be a little bit better early in the year. I thought we played our division really, really well last year, so do that again and play maybe the AL East a little better this year, and we'll be in a really good spot."

MORE ABOUT HIM: How Tigers' Tarik Skubal overcame major elbow surgery, became elite starting pitcher

Detroit Tigers left-hander Tarik Skubal speaks to reporters Monday, February 12, 2024, at the spring training facility in Lakeland, Florida.
Detroit Tigers left-hander Tarik Skubal speaks to reporters Monday, February 12, 2024, at the spring training facility in Lakeland, Florida.

Skubal returned from left flexor tendon surgery in July 2023. He anchored the Tigers' starting rotation throughout the second half of last season and set expectations for an All-Star-caliber 2024 campaign.

The 27-year-old posted a 2.80 ERA with 14 walks and 102 strikeouts across 80⅓ innings in 15 starts. He won AL Pitcher of the Month for September by logging a 0.90 ERA with four walks and 43 strikeouts across 30 innings in five starts.

"I didn't really want the season to end, to be honest," Skubal said. "I thought I was throwing the ball pretty well there. ... But I was excited to get to an offseason healthy and build the foundation of, hopefully, future health. I think that's the name of the game. If I can stay on the field, I like where I'm at."

In 2023, the Tigers finished 78-84 for second place in the AL Central, nine games behind the first-place Minnesota Twins. The Tigers had a 35-17 record against the Twins, Cleveland Guardians, Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals.

But the Tigers weren't as successful against the AL East, with a miserable 7-25 record against the Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. (The Tigers also went 15-17 against the AL West.)

"I like the culture that we have," Skubal said. "I like the guys that we have coming back. I loved our team last year. I thought it was a ton of fun. We're all kind of rowing the boat in the same direction, which is what you want. I'm excited to get back with these guys."

PROSPECT: How Tigers' Jackson Jobe developed into top pitching prospect nearing MLB debut

Skubal projects to be the Tigers' Opening Day starter, but he didn't have much to say about starting the season opener March 28 or the home opener April 6.

He just wants to pitch a full season without any restrictions.

"That's not my call," Skubal said. "I'm going to pitch as well as I can and let everyone figure that stuff out. I'm just going to pitch. If I get 30 starts and however many innings I can throw, I'll be pretty happy."

Contact Evan Petzold at or follow him @EvanPetzold.

Listen to our weekly Tigers show "Days of Roar" every Monday afternoon on demand at, Apple PodcastsSpotify or wherever you listen to podcasts. And catch all of our podcasts and daily voice briefing at

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers' Riley Greene says he's 'ready to go' after surgery