LeMahieu's return to Comerica Park far from just another game

DETROIT - DJ LeMahieu has trotted out of the Comerica Park visitors dugout before.

He is used to the smooth hops the ball takes off the perfectly manicured infield grass.

The Colorado Rockies infielder played at the Tigers ballpark a handful of times during his decorated young career.

That was as a member of his Brother Rice high school baseball team. Friday night, it was time to show up for his big league game.

"It's pretty cool to be back here as a Rockie," LeMahieu said.

"To play a high school championship game here, and the (high school) All-Star game here, it's pretty cool."

The second-year pro flew in with his teammates Thursday night, and had a friendly face waiting for him when he arrived. LeMahieu spent the day at home with his father before arriving at the ballpark Friday.

A little hometown advantage, if you will.

Tom LeMahieu was one of many proud family members and friends in the stands as DJ made his first appearance as a professional at Comerica Park. They watched as he scored as a pinch runner in the tenth inning.

In the same breath, the 23-year old had a hard time keeping an eye off the stands he used to sit in.

"I'll look for them a little bit. It'll be fun to see everyone. To come here as a fan, tons of games every year, to play here is pretty special."

LeMahieu has been a Gatorade Player of the Year, an Aflac All-American, and an NCAA National Championship from his days at Louisiana State University. Oh, and he made his major league debut with the Chicago Cubs last season -- less than two years after being drafted.

Nervous? To play in front of the hometown crowd? Please.

"I can't say 'nervous,' but it's definitely different than just a normal game. It's just special to play in front of high school coaches, and friends and family. It's a litle extra, this series."

So maybe the dugout looked the same. Maybe the infield was just as immaculate.

But Friday night was far from simply another game at Comerica Park for DJ LeMahieu.

It was homecoming.

And home was happy to have him back.

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