DETROIT — Rookie Kerry Carpenter hadn’t even been officially activated yet when Tigers manager AJ Hinch assembled the team in the clubhouse and told them general manager Al Avila, the man who one way or another was responsible for them all being in that room, had been fired.
Welcome to the big leagues, indeed.
The left-handed hitting Carpenter, the Tigers’ 19th round pick in 2019, made his debut Wednesday, serving as the Tigers’ designated hitter in a 3-2 loss to the Guardians at Comerica Park.
He went hitless in four at-bats, striking out three times.
“Oh man, it’s an incredible story,” Hinch said of Carpenter, whom the Tigers summoned from Triple-A Toledo to perhaps spark an offense that has been dormant most of the season. “We talk about wanting guys to earn it, he’s done it. Look at what he’s done from starting out repeating Double-A, getting pushed to Triple-A and he’s continued to perform and hit.
“It’s a cool story.”
Carpenter, 24, produced 30 home runs and 75 RBI between Erie and Toledo this season. He was hitting .331 with a .644 slugging percentage for the Mud Hens. As the Tigers’ offense continued to grind, the clamor for Carpenter grew louder and louder.
Finally, after the dispiriting 5-2 loss to the Guardians Tuesday, he got the call.
“It was special,” he said. “I didn’t know when exactly the time would come, but recently I just figured it would. I’m just thankful for it.”
Carpenter was nowhere to be found on the Tigers’ prospects before this season. But on the advice of teammate Jacob Robson, he visited a swing coach in St. Louis during the offseason, Richard Schenck, who has worked with Aaron Judge and Ian Happ among others.