While Tigers fans won't be able to see their team in October, they should be able to see plenty of their talented young center fielder during the playoffs over the next couple weeks. The catch is that he'll be on the other side of the coverage, taking his first plunge into broadcasting as an analyst, starting with Friday's coverage of the American League Division Series on TBS.
Actually, Granderson was already at it on Thursday. He arrived in Atlanta a day early to take a tour of the TBS Sports studios and ended up doing a guest spot on the set of TBS Hot Corner, the online partner to the TBS broadcast coverage. He finished up watching the TBS television crew of Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., slugger Frank Thomas and host Ernie Johnson do their work to get an idea of the process.
"They did a great job of making me feel comfortable," he said.
On Friday, he'll be joining them on the studio set, beginning with the On Deck show at 4:30 p.m. ET. He'll work some game breaks during and in between the two American League contests -- Yankees-Indians at 5 p.m. ET, followed by Angels-Red Sox at 8:30 p.m. ET -- and finish up with the Inside MLB postgame show after the second game.
The assignment came together in the final days of the regular season.
"Curtis was on a short list of ours because of his charisma," TBS Sports senior producer Howard Zalkowitz said. "He's always a very good interview, very polished for a player at such a young age, but also very genuine. But we didn't anticipate the Tigers being out until the end of the regular season or the postseason."
For Granderson, the foray into broadcasting could be an early look into a potential career when his playing days are done, not that the end is expected anytime soon. Zalkowitz said Granderson approached the studio with a natural curiosity when he arrived on Thursday.
"At first it didn't really seem like [a career move]," Granderson said. "I just thought it was a very interesting thing to do, to talk about the playoffs. Because before I got into [the Majors], I watched that. Now more and more people are talking, saying this is the first step towards it if I want to do it. Hopefully I don't have to start thinking about it just yet. It would be great whenever my career does wind down."
Viewers, in turn, should have a curiosity about Granderson. Before he became one of four players this century to post 20 doubles, triples, home runs and stolen bases in the same season, he was a key player in the Tigers' run to the World Series last year. He had a triple, two home runs and five RBIs in Detroit's Division Series upset of the Yankees, then reached base in nearly half of his plate appearances in the ALCS against the A's. He ended the World Series as a hard-luck footnote in history when he slipped and fell trying to chase down a fly ball in Game 4.
"I think that Curtis with his postseason experience last year, both with his success and having difficulty in the postseason as well, will lend himself to a real good viewpoint," Zalkowitz said. "You never know if a good interview will translate into being a good [analyst]. Hopefully he can do that.
"He's very serious about TV, and that's interesting."
That was apparently evident in the way he observed all that was going on as he watched on Thursday.
"It's very laid back and relaxed," he said. "The guys are having fun and joking around a lot. And the studios look the same as on TV, which sounds funny, but they had a very HD quality in person."
Once his Division Series duties are complete, he'll head down the dial and out to California to join ESPN's crew for the Pepsi Clutch Performer of the Year Award presentation show. From there, he'll get a little time off to catch his breath before heading to ESPN studios in Bristol, Conn., for what could be a marathon four-day stretch of ESPN programming. From Oct. 15-18, he'll be everywhere from their First Take morning show to Baseball Tonight once the games are done. In between, he'll do an online chat at ESPN.com and do guest spots on ESPNEWS and SportsCenter.
"It'll be interesting," Granderson said.
Once that is complete, then his offseason can finally begin.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.