DETROIT -- Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson was recently named by Sports Illustrated as the "Athlete from Another Sport Most Likely to Have Success in the NBA". They might want to consider him for the baseball list as well.
Johnson, who played baseball up until his senior year in high school before deciding his future would be in football, took batting practice at Comerica Park on Friday and threw out the ceremonial first pitch. And the 6-foot-5 receiver showed he still had skills.
He took about 30 pitches from third base coach Gene Lamont, didn't swing and miss once, and pulled a ball over the left-field fence into the Tigers' bullpen.
"I told Delmon Young I'm going to keep on coming back until I hit one out," said Johnson after his session. "And I happened to hit one out. ... My hands were kind of hurting at the time, but to see it go out, that was fun."
When Johnson finished his session, he signed a football for Jim Leyland, who immediately dropped back and did his best Matthew Stafford impression. Johnson then played catch with Alex Avila to warm up.
Fellow wide receivers Nate Burleson and Titus Young also joined in, and Johnson said it was a good way to bring the teams together.
"We just all wanted to get out here [and] meet the guys on the team," Johnson said. "It's always cool to go meet the guys on the other teams and have a little fellowship and we're doing that right now."
The trio donned Old English D's for the night and for Johnson, it brought back high school memories of playing center field. The 26-year-old said he drew interest from Major League teams in high school, but when asked if he could've made it in baseball, he quickly said he never considers "what ifs".
"I picked my road," he said. "But if I did anything [else], it would be baseball."