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Shawn Green - #15


From The Canoe Web Site


Shawn Green has his sights firmly set at another career first this season. The Toronto Blue Jays lanky outfielder became the first player in club history to belt 30 homers and steal 30 bases in a season in 1998, actually finishing with 35 homers and 35 steals. And while admitting to being intrigued with the prospect of becoming the first player in team history to hit the 40-40 plateau, of more importance to the 26-year-old is reaching the post-season for the first time in his major-league career. "Your first year or two playing you want to establish yourself," Green said. "Once that happens the only thing that really matters is getting to the post-season. "I really enjoyed having a good season last year, but not making the playoffs was tough. I think we were the one team that could've given (the World Series-champion New York) Yankees fits in the playoffs, but we just ran out of time."

The '98 season was also a breakthrough campaign for Green, who set career highs in games played (158), at-bats (630), runs (106), hits (175), doubles (33), homers, runs-batted in (100) and steals. And he credits much of that success to Jose Canseco, the departed DH who hit a career-best 46 homers and drove in 107 runs last year in Toronto before signing with Tampa Bay as an off-season free agent, and manager Tim Johnson, who said after joining the Jays that Green would be an everyday player.

Green never got that commitment from Cito Gaston, Johnson's predecessor, and never was able to settle in because of the fear that if he struggled one game, he'd be on the bench for the next few. "I came into spring training last year a lot more confident because T.J. told me from the start that I'd be in the lineup everyday," Green said. "That helps a player get through the tough times because you don't press trying to get out (of a slump) figuring if you don't get a couple of hits today you might be on the bench tomorrow. "His commitment just gave me confidence in knowing someone was behind me and that made all the difference in the world."

Johnson says his decision wasn't a brilliant piece of strategy. "I wish I could say it was," Johnson said with a chuckle. "Shawn Green is one of the most talented young players I've seen in 30 years. "This guy has ever tool, every attribute to be a superstar. I chuckle now because sometimes he mentions 40-40. And you know what? I think the son of a gun can do it."