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Green wants to improve on the field

3-01-01

Shawn Green is not like some modern baseball players.  Green’s difference is refreshing and brings many fans back to yesteryear when they perceived players played baseball for the joy of the game and not for the money.  In a recent article by the Associated Press Green said he does not pay attention to what other baseball players make.  He also said he is pleased many players have passed him on the salary list. This is a rare idea in baseball these days.  Though Green had an adequate performance in 2000, his performance was sub par from him. He wants to improve this year.

Shawn Green came to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays for Raul Mondesi and Pedro Borbon, Jr. After Green was traded, the Dodgers signed him to a six-year $84 million contract. This huge contract and returning to his hometown put added pressure on him to perform. Green handled it well.

At twenty-seven Green had two  great offensive seasons in Toronto.  In 1998 he had a .278 batting average, 35 home runs, and 100 RBI, and in 1999 he batted .309 with 42 home runs and 123 RBI. Also, in 1999 he won his first gold glove. The Dodgers and their fans expected a similar performance from him in 2000. As most do not realize, Green had to adjust to playing in the National League and Dodger Stadium, not a hitter’s park.

Green wanted to perform well for his new team and impress Dodger fans.  In the first two months he was the best Dodger hitter,  batting .338 with 10 home runs and 39 RBI.  At one stretch he reached  base for 53 straight games.  His defense was impressive, especially his strong accurate throws.  He helped the Dodgers to win games early in the season.

After May Green did not appear comfortable in the batter’s box.  He batted only .239 with 14 home runs and 60 RBI after May.  He lengthened his swing producing more strikeouts.  He said, “I didn't feel in control of my at_bats. A lot of times, I felt defensive at the plate. The two previous years, I felt in charge. That's all I want, that's what I'm looking for this year, to feel in charge. The numbers will come.''

When a new player comes into the National League, teams send out their advance scouts to find how to retire the player.  Teams share secrets.  The new player makes adjustments to succeed in the new league.  Green failed to make adjustments, so he struggled after May.

Though Green will deny it, fatigue might have been a factor.  The 2000 season was the first season that he had played 162 games, and he was the only Dodger to do so.  Green, a sensitive young man, probably was affected by the publicized criticism of Davey Johnson.  Every Dodger coach thought changing the leagues caused Green’s struggles.

His seasonal statistics for 2000 of a .269 batting average with 24 home runs and 99 RBI were good for most players, but neither Green nor the Dodgers was  satisfied with his performance.  Soft-spoken Green does not like being the focus of attention.  Every Dodger believes Green will improve in 2001.

© Sarah D. Morris

 

 

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