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Heading into this season, Shawn Green was a career .237 (137-579, 20 homers) hitter prior to the All Star Break and .313 (216-690, 21 home runs) hitter after the break. But being an everyday player has stepped up the schedule for the 25 year old who had already started to come through with the bat. BY CHRISTINA BUTTERFIELD

Shawn Green shows versatility in the Outfield, Improvement at The Plate



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, he’s had more at-bats and that’s meant he was already a closer to his career average well before the season’s All-Star festivities.

Through April, Green hit.232. By the end of May, he was up to .260. And through last Thursday’s 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.

“I’m starting to feel better at the plate.” Green said. “It’s taken me a little while this time, well, most times, since I’ve started playing.

“But I’m starting to feel good, I’m 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 I’d 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

GETS PLENTY OF ENCOURAGEMENT



“He’s been coming on,”assessed Blue Jays batting coach Gary Matthews. “He’s been getting some clutch hits lately and is really getting better with the bat.

“With the younger guys, you have to let them know they’re doing a good job. And he has

“He’s been playing well in the outfield, too. Often when they are on at the plate, they’re on out in the field as well. We’ve 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 Greenie’s coming along. He’s on schedule to hit for a for a decent average and to hit 20-or-more home runs. You don’t get want to put pressure on a guy, but that’s within reach. But your goal is always just to do better than you did last year and he’s doing that.”

Green’s 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 he’s an everyday player.

“This year’s been great with Tim Johnson and Gary Mathews,” Green Said. “They’re real sportive and they’ve 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 you’re going to be in the game. It’s a lot better coming to the park when you don’t have to worry about that.

“Baseball’s a game of rhythm so it’s hard to try to stay in rhythm if you’re playing only three or four times a week. When you’re 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, it’s ingrained in their heads So much that they can handle not playing everyday. They’re more role players and that takes a different kind of talent that a lot of the young players, including myself, aren’t able to do.”

Being in the lineup everyday has also helped Green,defensively. The extra confidence he’s earned in the field led to a switch to center where he’ll have to be a more aggressive, assertive fielder.

So far this season, he’s had several partners in the outfield between Canseco, Stewart and Crespo. Green’s been pretty much the only constant out there.

“It’s been a change definitely now that I’m playing center,” he said. “it’s fun, it’s exciting and it’s something that I will keep working at, trying to take as many balls out there as I can. Repetition’s 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.

“He’s surprised me this year” said Green of Canseco. “For one, I didn’t 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 he’s doing. It’s 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 won’t be long before he’s no longer considered a younger player. In the meantime he’s 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 we’ve got a good team. I think we’re going to have a strong season.”