08/05/08 9:27 PM ET
Granderson draws a crowd in Chicago
Outfielder's friends and family gather at U.S. Cellular field
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
The new part in recent years is how he's learned to approach it, and how friends and family have helped him handle it.
He still remembers being a nervous September callup when he made his first trip here with the Tigers near the end of the 2004 season. He had his first Major League hit here on Sept. 17, 2004, then added his second the next day before about 60 friends and family. He'll never forget the nerves he had to battle.
"That was the best and roughest time ever for me," Granderson said.
He has settled in since then. His .262 career average at U.S. Cellular Field entering Tuesday's series opener was 23 points below his overall average, but he improved dramatically last season. He went 11-for-34 (.324) here with two home runs, three doubles, six RBIs and 12 runs scored, including three hits in last season's final game to finish above .300 for the year.
Granderson picked up where he left off Tuesday, his first game in Chicago this season after missing the Tigers' April series while on the disabled list. Granderson had a two-run homer Tuesday along with a walk, a stolen base and two runs scored.
The fact that he can do that in front of family and friends is obviously a big deal for him. Yet the fact that family and friends have started seeing him in Detroit and other cities helps make it less overwhelming.
"It's always exciting to get a chance to see people, especially with an off-day here," Granderson said. "There's friends and family that I always stay in touch with. But my friends and family do a great job, and I appreciate it, of coming to Detroit a lot, too. So it's not like when I come here, that I haven't seen people in a long time."
It's more than simply Detroit. This season alone, Granderson said, he has had friends and family see him play at Kansas City, Arizona, Cleveland and Baltimore. That makes a difference.
"When I talk to other guys on the team, they say when they have friends and family in town and they're playing in front of them, there's so much pressure to perform," Granderson said. "And the good thing is, considering this isn't the only game they're going to see me, that they've had a chance to see me five, 10, 15, sometimes 20 games. One of those games, I've done something. And at the end of the day, it doesn't matter if it's 0-for-4 or 4-for-4. They're just happy to get a chance to come to the game and see me."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.