Lorenzen to rep Tigers at ’23 All-Star Game

July 2nd, 2023

DENVER --  signed with the Tigers as a free agent in December believing they could help him take the next step in his career. He still isn’t where he wants to be yet, but his progression now includes his first career All-Star selection.

It was not an honor Lorenzen saw coming when manager A.J. Hinch called him into his office Sunday morning along with the Tigers' coaching staff.

“He had all the coaches in there and kind of tried to hide it,” Lorenzen said. “He was going to break the news, but the way he was saying it, I was like, 'Did I get traded or something? I think I got traded.' But then he was telling me when I was going to start and I was like, 'Why did I get traded if he's telling me when I'm going to start?'”

Eventually, the possibility hit him.

“I'm like, 'This is fishy, but there's no way that I made the All-Star Game. There's absolutely no way.' And then he told me that I did, and I kind of broke down.”

Like many, Lorenzen thought there was a stronger chance a Tigers reliever would get the honor, such as setup man Jason Foley. Indeed, the Tigers will be represented at the All-Star Game by a pitcher for the sixth consecutive time, but Lorenzen’s honor hits a little differently. Not only is he the first Tigers starter to go to the Midsummer Classic since Michael Fulmer in 2017 -- Detroit has had relievers at the past four games -- Lorenzen is the rare case of a veteran who became an All-Star in his first year in Detroit. Jhonny Peralta did it in his first full year as a Tiger in 2011, less than a year after the Tigers acquired him in a trade from Cleveland. Edwin Jackson did it in 2009 after he was traded from Tampa Bay.

But no veteran had become a first-time All-Star as a Tiger immediately after signing with Detroit as a free agent since Cecil Fielder’s 51-homer season in 1990 after the slugger returned from Japan. The 31-year-old Lorenzen gets his first such honor in his ninth Major League season. He spent his first seven seasons in Cincinnati, most of them working out of the bullpen, before becoming a full-time starter last year with the Angels.

In many ways, Lorenzen represents what the Tigers have been trying to build since Scott Harris took over as president of baseball operations -- a destination where players can come to improve their careers.

“I’m happy for him; I’m happy for the organization as well,” Hinch said. “He signs here, he gets a ton of credit for the work that he’s put in. We’ve tried to work with him. Since May, he’s been incredible.”

While Eduardo Rodriguez garnered most of the All-Star speculation among Tigers starters before his finger injury, Lorenzen quietly has put together a solid campaign that belies his 2-6 record. His 4.28 ERA includes six quality starts in his last 11 appearances, including seven innings of one-run ball on two hits with six strikeouts against the White Sox on June 3 in Chicago. He took a perfect-game bid into the sixth inning against the White Sox a week earlier at Comerica Park and tossed six scoreless innings with seven strikeouts against the Pirates on May 16.

A lot of change went into that, from the way he uses his wide pitch selection to the approach he takes to hitters.

“I’m proud of him, not being too stubborn to change some of his pitch usage and the work behind the scenes that goes with that,” Hinch said. “He came here to get better and he did. He gets rewarded. Ninth year in the big leagues, to tell someone he gets to be a first-time All-Star, that was an emotional meeting and a really cool moment for me, the pitching department and the entire organization.”

Said Lorenzen: “It tells me I’m in the right place. Me and my wife, we made a decision this offseason to come here because we felt like the Tigers could make me better as a pitcher. There were a lot of sleepless nights of whether or not I made the right decision before, but this organization has done a great job with me in helping me get to where I am.”