J-Up and outta here for 1st HR with Tigers

Outfielder launches 451-foot solo shot into camera well in center field

J-Up and outta here for 1st HR with Tigers

DETROIT -- Justin Upton is a golfer who took part in the Phoenix Open Pro-Am near his home before he left for Spring Training in February. When someone tried to put the distance of his first home run as a Tiger in golf terms, he gave his best guess.

"It's a wedge or an iron, depending on conditions," he said of his estimated 451-foot drive Tuesday during an 8-2 win against the Pirates at Comerica Park.

The conditions he played through Tuesday were chilly, with a first-pitch temperature of 43 degrees. The wind blowing out more than made up for it.

It might not have mattered the way Upton swung, sending a Juan Nicasio pitch into the camera well above the center-field shrubs at Comerica Park in the first inning.

"I was surprised it went out to center," Upton said. "I was on my horse a little bit, coming out of the box, and then [Andrew] McCutchen kind of shut it down, and then I knew it was gone. But yeah, it's a big yard out there. You know there aren't many that are going to go out that way, but you can still hit it to right and left, so it's fair."

Statcast™ estimated the distance at 451 feet, the fifth-longest home run in the Majors this season and the longest by a Tiger this year. Upton went 4-for-5 in the game, adding an RBI single in the second.

Upton's RBI single

Upton entered the day batting 5-for-22 this season with three doubles, a walk and 10 strikeouts. He had missed on 21 of his first 48 swings. However, he's familiar with Nicasio, as he entered Tuesday 5-for-11 with three doubles lifetime against the Pirates right-hander.

The two faced each other in the National League each of the past four years -- Nicasio with the Rockies and Dodgers, Upton with the D-backs, Braves and Padres.

"I have a lot of at-bats off of him," Upton said, "so obviously it's somebody I know what [his pitches] look like and how he's going to work. It definitely helps out."

Upton, Ausmus on Tigers' offense

His 49th swing of the season connected, sending the 85-mph slider from Nicasio out to center field at a velocity of 111 mph, according to Statcast™. According to ESPN Stats and Information, Upton's drive was his 17th home run measured at 450 feet or longer since the start of the 2009 season. Only the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton, who has 29, has hit more among Major League players.

The camera well, nestled between the center-field shrubs and Comerica Park's fountain, is normally reserved for Miguel Cabrera's longest home runs, though former Tigers third baseman Eric Munson hit the camera well with an estimated 457-foot homer in 2004. J.D. Martinez also reached that territory last July 21 with a park-record 467-foot home run that hit the camera well's roof.

Statcast: J.D. Martinez erupts

"That's select company," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "We haven't seen many of those in the years I've been here."

Upton wasn't concerned enough with the distance to watch.

"Not really," Upton said. "All I really care about is it going over the fence."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.