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Shawn Green article from Baseball Weekly



Green Seasoned beyond his years


Baseball Weekly: Looking at your lineup, you have a strong young nucleus in guys like yourself, Carlos Delgado, Alex Gonzalez, Jose Cruz Jr., Shannon Stewart and Homer Bush. Does that good chemistry on the field carry over into the clubhouse and off the field?

Shawn Green: Definitely. Last year, once the trade deadline hit on July 31, all of us were playing together on an everyday basis and everything started to click and that's carried over into this year. We all really get along and pull for each other. And Carlos, Alex and myself have come up together through the minor leagues and have played together for seven or eight years. It's a thrill to see everyone doing well together and being key contributors on a team that has a chance to do some exciting things.

BW: What was the reaction in the clubhouse to the trade that sent Roger Clemens to the Yankees?

SG: Well, I think in one sense guys were a little relieved that it was over with because there had been so much speculation throughout the winter that Roger Clemens would be traded. It's hard to see a pitcher like Roger go but I feel we got a great deal. We got one of the best left-handed guys in the bullpen (Graeme Lloyd), a second baseman who could be here a long time (Homer Bush) and one of the best pitchers in baseball (David Wells), and we needed a left-handed starter to compete with teams like the Yankees that have a strong left-handed lineup.

BW: Last year you became the franchise's first 30-30 man. Was that ever a goal you set for yourself? SG: It wasn't something I ever thought of until Jose Canseco joined the team and told me during spring training, "You're going to go 30-30 this year." He was a great help to me, picking me up in tough times and helping me learn how to play the game and how to run the bases. It was something I didn't think about until the All-Star break and I realized the numbers were in line for me to get 30-30. People were making such a big deal out of it so I figured I'd better try to do it.

BW: Did you do anything differently once you had that in mind? Did you steal a base when you might not have otherwise or try to go yard when maybe you would have normally just tried to get a base hit?

SG: Maybe more with the home runs. Late in the season when I got to 28 or 29 home runs, I was in certain situations definitely trying to go deep. Most of the time it didn't work but every once in awhile it would work out for me. Fortunately I was able to reach the goal early in September so I didn't have to worry about it late in the season.

BW: Which was harder to get -- the 30 steals or the 30 homers?

SG: It was the home runs. I always felt I could steal bases if given the opportunity but I was never really a big home run hitter so that was really the surprise for me. But now it seems like it's a lot harder to steal bases because guys are holding me closer to first.

BW: You are one of the few Jewish players in the majors. Were you brought up in an observant household?

SG: Not really. Both my parents are Jewish and my mom came from a more religious family than my dad did, but being from Orange County, Calif., there weren't that many Jewish families there. On the Jewish holidays, you had maybe 10 or 20 kids missing school. I wasn't bar mitzvahed but now I think it's something I'm going to do. Since I've been in the major leagues a lot of people from the Jewish community have reached out to me and it's been such a great feeling. I've been more in touch with my heritage since I've been playing in the major leagues. I go to services on the high holidays in Toronto. The great thing is I haven't had to make the "Sandy Koufax" decision yet (he decided not to play on the holidays) and I've already checked and it won't be an issue this year -- Yom Kippur falls on a Sunday night and we have a Sunday day game and an off day that Monday. It's perfect.

BW : Have you faced any discrimination?

SG: Not really. People make comments here and there not knowing that I'm Jewish. And now people who know joke around with me but it's all in fun. (One of his nicknames is "The Kosher Kid").

BW: Growing up in California, which teams did you follow?

SG: I liked the Yankees a lot as a kid. I was more of a fan of players. I loved Don Mattingly and a lot of the good left-handed hitters like Rod Carew and Wade Boggs. I used to put Don Mattingly's baseball card in my cap. I would go to Angel games when the Yankees came to town just to watch Mattingly.

BW: You turned down a baseball scholarship to Stanford University to sign with the Jays. Have you pursued higher education at all during the off season?

SG: I took some classes at Stanford after I signed and classes at UCLA but it's been harder the last few years because it's so draining. I declared psychology as my major.

BW: Have you thought at all about you might want to do after baseball?

SG: You know, I have enough trouble thinking about what I want to do next week. I just try to let things happen day by day. I figure things will come up. I'm a firm believer that situations will present themselves at the right time.