Detroit – It's been a big couple months for J.K. Simmons. First an Oscar, then he throws out the first pitch at Comerica Park.

OK, so they really don't compare. Or, do they?

"Honestly, I was a little more nervous jogging out to the mound than I was walking up on to the stage at the Dolby Theatre," Simmons said Monday afternoon, before heading up to watch the opener against the Twins in a suite. "So that'll give you some perspective there."

Simmons, 60, has been a longtime Tigers fan, having grown up in Grosse Pointe. He enjoyed the 1968 and 1984 champions, but also the forgettable teams, too.

So that'll explain the nerves.

As for the first pitch, he did just fine. Caught the corner, apparently, though not much heat. Simmons saved the heat for his one-liner.

"Country Joe (West) said it was a strike," Simmons said of the longtime umpire, who has his fair share of critics. "Although I'm not sure he's the most reliable judge."

Things are good these days for Simmons, whose film resume is a mile long. In February, he won the Best Supporting Actor for his role as an intense music instructor in "Whiplash." He then drew lots of headlines for his inspirational acceptance speech about family.

It wasn't that long ago that you recognized Simmons, but maybe didn't know his name.

Like when he played manager Frank Perry in "For Love of the Game," the baseball classic in which Kevin Costner plays aging Tigers pitcher Billy Chapel.

Now, they didn't make the team the Tigers because of you, did they, J.K.?

"I wish that was the case," he said with a smile. "The book, 'For Love of the Game,' was written about the Tigers and that character Billy Chapel and Frank Perry that I played. Sam Raimi, who's a Detroit guy, was the director. I didn't even know that. When I went to audition for the movie, I wore my Tigers jersey and Tigers cap like an idiot 9-year-old. 'Can I be in the movie?' It worked out pretty well.

"The only thing that would've been better is if I would've played the center fielder in that movie instead of the manager, but I guess the center fielder didn't have as many lines."

Simmons, also known for his roles in "Law & Order" and Raimi's "Spider-Man" trilogy among many, many others, had a ball Monday.

He warmed up for his first pitch in the underbelly of Comerica Park, then got to hang in the Tigers' dugout and chat with manager Brad Ausmus. After the game, a 4-0 Tigers victory, Simmons strolled into the Tigers' locker room with a smile.

The discussion with Ausmus, by the way, mostly about baseball.

"We talked about the team and about the game, about JV (Justin Verlander) and the bullpen. Whether Victor (Martinez) and Miggy (Miguel Cabrera) feel like they had enough swings this spring," Simmons said. "When I'm there with the baseball guys, baseball is what I want to talk about. Baseball or family, that's what the chat is usually about."

For the record, he says he's not worried about Detroit's bullpen. He said it with a straight face.

Man, the guy sure can act.


The Four Tops warm up for national anthem with Oscar award winning actor J.K. Simmons at Opening Day Robin Buckson​