OF Brennan Boesch off to red-hot start with Tigers

DETROIT (AP) — Tigers outfielder Brennan Boesch remembers going to Los Angeles Dodgers games with his father, watching a string of prospects have instant success and longing to be just like them.

Now, he's living his dream and soon will get to play in the place where his began.

"It's pretty neat," Boesch said before Detroit started a road trip Wednesday night in Oakland. "The beauty of this game is how dreams start with the kids so young. I just hope the butterflies subside before game time and Chavez Ravine treats me well."

A bigger question might be how Boesch treats Dodger Stadium. The first-year player has been on fire.

In fact, his production at the plate at the start of his career can't be matched by any player in more than a half-century.

He is the only player to hit at least .387 with 19 RBIs, three homers, two triples and have 10 multihit games in his first 20 games since at least 1952, according to STATS LLC.

If you narrow the search to batting average, RBIs and homers, Hall of Famer Willie McCovey and New York Mets outfielder Jeff Francoeur, who has had an up and down career, are the only players who did what Boesch has done in each category.

"What he's doing is unconscious," teammate Alex Avila said. "He's in uncharted waters."

Boesch helped the Tigers become the first team to win four straight series at home against reigning playoff teams since 1995, when baseball started putting four teams in the postseason. The defending champion New York Yankees left the Motor City raving about him.

"That guy is impressive," Yankees star Mark Teixeria said.

Manager Jim Leyland is leery of the media building Boesch up to be a future Hall of Famer less than a month after he was called up from the minors because Carlos Guillen was injured. He hopes Boesch doesn't get too excited or flustered by the attention.

"He is a story, he should be a story," Leyland said. "A lot of it is how he handles that."

Boesch seems to have the tools above his shoulder to cope with his newfound fame. He was born and raised in Santa Monica, Calif., and had grades good enough for him to attend California, where he and his baseball teammates took advantage of $1 hot dogs the Athletics sell to draw fans. The well-spoken Boesch has a father who specializes in business and entertainment litigation and a mother who runs a Venice Beach inn.

Like a sponge, Boesch is trying to soak up every opportunity to pick up hitting tips from slugger Miguel Cabrera and the savvy Johnny Damon.

"The kid's having fun with it," Leyland said. "Like I said, enjoy the ride."

A slew of family and friends will watch the 25-year-old Boesch play Friday night against the Dodgers, who had five straight NL rookies of the year while he was a young fan in the stands in the 1990s.

"I remember watching (Mike) Piazza and seeing those guys out there, realizing that's what I want to do and I'm going to do everything I can to get there," Boesch recalled. "I just remember dreaming of the opportunity that maybe I'd get one day as a little kid. I always wanted to be a Dodger. To play them is going to be special to me."

Phil Boesch recalls taking his son to root for the Dodgers often as early as when he was 5, when he had enough passion for the game that he insisted on using a real baseball glove — not a miniature one — as he played in a T-ball league with older kids.

"It's great to see his dream come true," Phil Boesch said in a telephone interview. "Although his dream is not just to make it, but to stay."