In each of his last three seasons playing for the Blue Jays, Shawn Green has hit .280 or better.
But Green is, admittedly, a slow starter. In his first full term with the Blue Jays in 95, he hit .237 before the All-Star Break and .323 after the Break. He repeated the pattern in 96, batting .231 before the Mid Summer Classic and afterwards, .337. Last year was no different as Green hit .273 prior to The All-Star Break and .295 in the last part of the schedule.
He continued this trend this year, but only one difference. Having a chance to play everyday, hes had more at-bats and thats meant he was already a closer to his career average well before the seasons All-Star festivities.
Through April, Green hit.232. By the end of May, he was up to .260. And through last Thursdays game against the Expos, he was up to .272. He lead the Blue Jays with 81 hits, was second in runs (44), third in homeruns (13) and third in RBIs (38). And with 19 stolen bases, he was among the top base stealers in the AL, second only to the Blue Jays Jose Canseco. Those steals for Green already set a personal best in the ML, surpassing his 14 stolen bases for the 97 season.
As far as pro bests are concerned, Green swiped 22 bases with Dunedin in 92 and 19 with Syracuse in 94, healthy numbers in the speed department throughout his time in the Jays organization - to go along with his solid defense and steady bat.
Im starting to feel better at the plate. Green said. Its taken me a little while this time, well, most times, since Ive started playing.
But Im starting to feel good, Im staring to see the ball and do more of what I like to do at the plate in different at-bats and hitting in more situations the way Id Like to.
Green was 2-for-4 with two RBIs in the Blue Jays 7-3 win at Baltimore on June 21st and followed that up Monday night with another 2-for-4 game with a walk and three runs scored as the Blue Jays beat the Expos14-2
Hes been coming on,assessed Blue Jays batting coach Gary Matthews. Hes been getting some clutch hits lately and is really getting better with the bat.
With the younger guys, you have to let them know theyre doing a good job. And he has
Hes been playing well in the outfield, too. Often when they are on at the plate, theyre on out in the field as well. Weve seen that with Ed Sprague lately. He had a couple hits the other night (in Baltimore) and picked up his game at third, too... made some really good plays.
But Greenies coming along. Hes on schedule to hit for a for a decent average and to hit 20-or-more home runs. You dont get want to put pressure on a guy, but thats within reach. But your goal is always just to do better than you did last year and hes doing that.
Greens ML career best batting average (.288) came in 1995. He added a career best 54 RBIs that same year. The Des Plaines, Illinois native had a career high 32 doubles in 1996 and posted bests in appearances (135), at-bats (429), runs (57), hits (123) and homers (16) in 1997 with a .355 average (44-of-124) but is producing at the plate and in the field is his main objective.
The 6-foot-4, 195 pound outfielder is primed to improve his totals now that hes an everyday player.
This years been great with Tim Johnson and Gary Mathews, Green Said. Theyre real sportive and theyve given me a lot of insight into what to do in different situations. I like being in there every day, that helps, too. You have a totally different attitude going in, knowing youre going to be in the game. Its a lot better coming to the park when you dont have to worry about that.
Baseballs a game of rhythm so its hard to try to stay in rhythm if youre playing only three or four times a week. When youre in there everyday, especially as a younger player, it helps out a lot. I think older players and veterans that have been around, they know their swing and their approach, its ingrained in their heads So much that they can handle not playing everyday. Theyre more role players and that takes a different kind of talent that a lot of the young players, including myself, arent able to do.
Being in the lineup everyday has also helped Green,defensively. The extra confidence hes earned in the field led to a switch to center where hell have to be a more aggressive, assertive fielder.
So far this season, hes had several partners in the outfield between Canseco, Stewart and Crespo. Greens been pretty much the only constant out there.
Its been a change definitely now that Im playing center, he said. its fun, its exciting and its something that I will keep working at, trying to take as many balls out there as I can. Repetitions really the only way to do it.
That method worked in the past when Green mostly worked in either left and right field. He reduced his six errors in his rookie campaign to two in 1996 and three in 1997. He had a career high 254 putouts and 10 outfield assists in 1996. Green had contributed to three double plays in each of his past three years.
Having a veteran outfielder beside him in Canseco, says Green, is also helping.
Hes surprised me this year said Green of Canseco. For one, I didnt realize what a student of the game he is. I always thought he was a big home rum hitter, he goes up there and swings hard. But he knows how to do the little things to win; he knows how to steal bases, where to play guys in the outfield. He knows what hes doing. Its good to have a veteran guy like that to help the young players.
Green knows that now, with three-and-a-half Big League Seasons already under his belt, it wont be long before hes no longer considered a younger player. In the meantime hes focussed on a single goal.
My goal is just to be a everyday player and contribute, no matter where I am, he said. I want to do what I can to help the team win because weve got a good team. I think were going to have a strong season.