PHOENIX – Shawn Green is, for the moment, a .346 hitter, which is a pretty fair month for a guy whose career appeared clearly to be heading in the other direction.
Once he lived on the barrel of his bat, from 1998 to 2002 averaging 38 home runs, 112 RBI and 37 doubles with the Toronto Blue Jays and Los Angeles Dodgers. When his home runs declined in 2003, he still hit 49 doubles.
That's when he had his shoulder surgery, and when his power numbers and batting average declined, and when he started being moved around the National League, from the Dodgers to the Arizona Diamondbacks to the New York Mets.
Those are tough seasons.
"It's like you walk around with your stats on your forehead," Green said.
From a nearby locker, David Newhan nodded. "Defines you," he said.
"Hitting is like its own life form," Green continued. "For the six, seven months you play, you carry it around with you everywhere you go."
Over the winter, Green discovered a flaw in his swing, mechanics he'd developed after surgery he'd never cleared out. So, he's hitting again, driving the ball again, feeling like, at 34, there might be more baseball in him beyond this season after all.
"I haven't felt like this at the plate since my good years in L.A., in terms of seeing the ball and taking pitches," he said. "It's very encouraging. My goal coming into this year was trying to get back to my best years. It's been a month, but it's been a good month.
"It feels good to be in control rather than just be reacting, rather than just trying to squeak out hits."
• The Mets promoted right-handed reliever Lino Urdaneta yesterday to take the roster spot of all-but-done Chan Ho Park. Urdaneta's only other big-league experience came with the Detroit Tigers 2½ years ago, when he pitched to six batters in a 26-5 loss to the Kansas City Royals. We're not saying it was a bad outing, but the first out he gets for the Mets will take that sideways eight off his ERA. He allowed a walk and five consecutive hits as part of the Royals' 11-run fourth and has lugged around an ERA of infinity ever since.
• Funny that Victor Conte felt he had to distance himself from Kirk Radomski. I get the impression connecting two steroids dealers in sports is a lot like asking a guy from New York if he knows your friend Jimmy Trout from the Bronx because, you know, he lives in New York, too.
• This might seem odd to you, but the Radomski bombshell and the promise that more players will have a chance to say they dialed the phone number, ordered up some Deca, sent a check, received shipment and then, at the very moment they raised a vein … changed their minds, has not sent baseball execs into a tizzy. In fact, more than a few that I've talked to view this as both inevitable and necessary. Ten years ago, five years ago, even a couple years ago, disastrous. But, now, hey, what can be exposed that A) most of the public doesn't already suspect and B) be worse than the insinuations of a steroid-saturated league? All that would be left – for this Radomski and the Radomskis that are sure to follow – is for the league to act on the proof brought before it. That, I'm guessing, will be the hard part.
• While we're on the subject, get ready for this defense: Radomski is a confessed criminal who would do and say anything to cozy up to the authorities, who will then decide where he'll spend his next few Christmases. I've already heard it from a number of agents.
• Just an observation gathered over five at-bats Thursday night, but it looks like Carlos Delgado is trying to pull his way out of his .196 start. He's such a good hitter when he's driving the ball to left-center field.
... AND FLY
It's Friday. Where's Ryan Langerhans?