After bouncing around in baseball bullpens, he returns to catch for his favorite team growing up
Sam Palace couldn’t pass up a chance to come home.
MIAMI — The Detroit Tigers recently hired Palace, who graduated from Clarkston High in 2004, as a second bullpen catcher.
“It’s hard to put a price on coming back home,” Palace said. “I have a little extra sense of pride to put on the D.”
Palace said the highlight of his prep baseball career was probably a trip to Battle Creek for the state tournament in 2002.
Palace scored both runs in a 6-2 loss to Portage Central in a Division I semifinal. He was Clarkston’s leadoff hitter. He hit a home run.
The Tigers were Palace’s favorite team growing up.
“I loved watching Pudge,” Palace said, referring to former Tigers catcher Ivan Rodriguez. “Especially when he was in Detroit. He was my favorite player.”
New Tigers reliever Mark Lowe knew Palace from their time together at Triple-A Syracuse in 2013. Lowe pitched in 24 games for the Chiefs, and Palace was the bullpen catcher.
“I knew there was an open spot here in the bullpen,” Lowe said. “We played the Nationals one day out here and he came up and said, ‘Hey, there’s a spot open.’ I said, ‘Well, I’ll put in a good word for you.’ He’s a good guy. I knew he’d fit right in.”
Palace, 29, had been working for the Nationals in a similar role.
“The Nationals have always been good to me,” Palace said. “They kind of allowed me to contemplate the decision, and ultimately I decided this was going to be best for my family and my wife, to be able to come back home.
“The hardest part was leaving all the friends and coaches I had in Washington over seven years. Most of the guys were happy for me. They knew it was my home.”
“I’m looking right now to try and rent a place close by Comerica Park,” he said.
Palace had been living in Chicago during the off-season and said he would come home to visit his parents during the holidays.
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