Detroit — Gene Roof can remember the first time he laid eyes on Christin Stewart. It was on the backfields at the Tigers’ training complex in Lakeland, shortly after the Tigers drafted Stewart in the first round in 2015.
It became instantly clear the powerfully-built kid from Tennessee was drafted for his bat and not his glove.
“I kept wondering why he wouldn’t move until the ball got on top of him,” Roof said.
Since 2001, Roof, who retired earlier this month, has been the organization’s roving minor league outfield and base running coach. Over the years he’d helped develop players like Curtis Granderson, Marcus Thames, Milt Cuyler and Craig Monroe. He was instrumental in helping Nick Castellanos’ successful transition from third base to the outfield in 2017. Recently he’s been working with Riley Greene, Parker Meadows and Brock Deatherage.
But few players over the years came to him as raw as Stewart.
“I don’t think anybody understands how much time I put in with him,” Roof said.
As Stewart himself recalled, Roof was with him so much early on, he was like his personal coach.
“When I first got drafted, everywhere I went, he pretty much went,” Stewart said, chuckling. “Me and Geno were always together those first two years, in fall league and minor league camp, we were always out there working together.
“He set the baseline. Because once I learned all the things he taught me, at that…