ROYAL OAK, Mich. -- Shane Greene and Jordy Mercer were straightening their Tigers jerseys and National Coney Island hats when they were offered some last-minute advice before their shift waiting tables at the Tigers Winter Caravan on Friday morning."Don't drop anything," they were told."I can't make any promises," Greene said,
ROYAL OAK, Mich. -- Shane Greene and Jordy Mercer were straightening their Tigers jerseys and National Coney Island hats when they were offered some last-minute advice before their shift waiting tables at the Tigers Winter Caravan on Friday morning.
"Don't drop anything," they were told.
"I can't make any promises," Greene said, smiling.
Greene and Mercer handled everything smoothly, though they avoided handling heavy trays, just in case. While Mercer carried plates away from tables, Greene picked up some experience making ice cream sundaes and shakes and bringing them to customers.
Greene also learned that, yes, there are Michiganders who order shakes and sundaes with their breakfast in the middle of winter.
"It's pretty early in the morning, so I don't know what that's about," he said. "But whatever you're into."
While the Tigers' annual Winter Caravan stops range from corporate office rallies to patient visits at hospitals to Minor League affiliate events, stops like what Greene and Mercer made on Friday are particularly popular. They're not only open to the public; they allow players to interact with fans in a regular setting, rather than in a question-and-answer session.
They also show Major League players trying out other people's jobs. They often tend to be restaurants. Torii Hunter and Jose Iglesias handled orders at a Big Boy restaurant several years ago. Magglio Ordonez manned the drive-thru window at a McDonald's once, and another time he worked a gate at Detroit Metro Airport, scanning tickets for a departing flight.
Greene, for one, had never waited tables at a restaurant before.
"I did my best to remember the orders," Greene said. "Luckily, the woman that was showing me around, she wrote them down, so I was good to go."
The National Coney Island stop was part of a busy Friday morning for Greene and Mercer, who were up early for a radio morning show visit or two. Later in the morning, they went to the Michigan Humane Society, where they helped a few lucky fans pick out pets to adopt as part of the MHS Clear the Cages free adoption event.
The cause was close to home for both players, both dog owners. One fan asked if Mercer was available for adoption, to which he could only break out laughing.
Later Friday afternoon, the Tigers stopped by Children's Hospital of Michigan to give gifts to patients and visit with outpatients.
Detroit fans have gotten to know Greene, part of the Tigers' pitching staff for the last four seasons. His unique personality was a big part of his podcast with teammate Nicholas Castellanos last season.
"It was great, as always," Greene said of the caravan. "Big smiles, lots of pictures."
Mercer, by contrast, is a new Tiger, signed Dec. 14 to take over at shortstop after spending the first seven seasons of his career in Pittsburgh. Though he has been through Detroit several times as a visiting player, he hadn't been here during winter, though he saw wintry weather when the Pirates opened last season in Detroit. Mercer introduced himself to several fans at tables, agreeing that while he knows winter weather in his native Oklahoma, he's new to winter in Michigan.
Mercer did his share of waiting tables, as well.
"It's a hard job," he said. "It is."
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.