Granderson impressed by downtown improvements

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Former Tiger and current Met Curtis Granderson flies out in the first inning.

Detroit — When Curtis Granderson was playing for the Tigers, he heard a lot of talk about the potential of the downtown area in Detroit and how great it could be if some of the plans that were being formed then came to fruition.

Well, he’s back at Comerica Park this weekend with the New York Mets, his first time here since 2013 when he was with the Yankees. He was impressed to see the city’s progress.

“I remember right when I was getting ready to leave thinking there’s a lot of potential that can happen if a couple steps are made in the right direction,” Granderson told reporters before the game Friday night. “It seems like a lot of that is happening. There was something I noticed just north of I-75 across from the stadium where Wayne State starts to pick up, and I assume that’s the new hockey arena.”

It is.

“One of the things I do remember seeing if it could happen here, having Ford Field and Comerica and the Fox and the area behind that — if you were able to put another arena nearby, you would have a big sports complex very similar what you have in Philly,” he said. “Which could bring a lot of people to the area for different periods of time over the course of the year.

“Plus you continue to have casinos still here. It’s a combination of everyone’s vision and things I remember hearing people discuss, and getting a chance to see it is really cool.”

There was another aspect of the city that he got reacquainted with, as well. Road construction and traffic jams.

“I was communicating with a friend of mine who was driving to Toledo yesterday and talking about how things were backed up on I-275,” he said. “And I said, ‘I remember those summer construction days and the night closures and there’s no other way around it. You have to sit through it.’

“And I was like, ‘Wow, that’s still going on.’ Little things like that I remember from before, that haven’t changed, but then other things are changing.”

Granderson was the Mets designated hitter Friday. The only teammate of Granderson’s left from the Tigers 2006 World Series team is the guy he led off against — Justin Verlander.

“It’s been a while since I’ve got a chance to face him,” Granderson said. “But if anything, he’s very competitive and he’s very confident and he’s one of the top guys in that rotation for a reason. He’s been there for a very long time.

“It’s always going to be a challenge, especially at Comerica.”

As he did when he was playing for the Tigers, Grandson planned to give back to the community while he was in town.

“Doing a Kids Camp tomorrow for youth here,” he said. “Cameron Maybin, Craig Monroe and Rod Allen. It’ll be really cool. We started the foundation here in Detroit, and now we’re continuing to grow and get bigger, and getting a chance to come back and do something here in Detroit will be really cool.”

The Granderson-Maybin Camp, an entry-level skills camp, will host over 150 kids from Detroit’s inner city at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at William Clay Ford Field at the Woodbridge Community Youth Center.

“We have 150 kids from the Detroit area that are going to come in and get a chance with basic stuff — fielding, throwing, hitting, running,” Granderson said. “Just have fun with them, show them the cool things about it. And I thought it was a really cool tie-in, the fact that Cameron came up when I was here and now he’s back over here.

“Plus Craig was here when I started. Hopefully it can be something where kids look up and say, ‘Wow, there’s a lot of people that I’ve heard of, recognize, seen, watched. Maybe I can potentially one day be one of them.”

Twitter.com: @cmccosky