Andy Green is one of the most upbeat and positive people you would ever want to be around, but please excuse the Lexington native for wishing that, so far, his first season as a Major League Baseball manager actually included a healthy major league team.
“It’s a great group of guys,” the skipper of the San Diego Padres said Sunday in the visiting team’s clubhouse at Great American Ball Park. “We had a ton of injuries early on in the season. We lost several pitchers from our rotation, including Tyson Ross, our opening-day starter.”
Knowing they needed some breaks to challenge San Francisco and Los Angeles atop the National League West, the 33-44 Padres have received few in the debut season for the former Lexington Christian and UK star.
The 29-year-old Ross was 10-12 with a 3.26 ERA last season after going 13-14 with a 2.81 ERA in 2014. He injured his shoulder the first game of the season and hasn’t been back after a setback in his recovery.
A month later, the Padres lost right-hander Robbie Erlin after just two starts and 15 innings to Tommy John surgery.
On June 4, the Padres dealt veteran starter James Shields to the Chicago White Sox. Shields is 129-106 lifetime and was 13-7 last season with the Padres after signing as a free agent.
We’ve been decimated by injuries to a degree, but these guys have fought hard.
San Diego Padres Manager Andy Green
Six days later, starter Andrew Cashner left after the first inning of a game against Colorado because of a strained neck. He has been on the disabled list since, though Cashner did throw a bullpen session last Tuesday.
The injury bug hasn’t just bitten the pitchers. Opening-day second baseman Cory Spangenberg played 14 games before straining his left squad. Clean-up hitter Yangervis Solarte has battled a thumb injury. Starting outfielder Jon Jay, former Cardinal, is currently out with a forearm bruise.
“We’ve been decimated by injuries to a degree, but these guys have fought hard,” Green said. “June has been very solid for us. We’ve been playing very well, swinging the bat well, coming together as a team.”
After a 9-15 April and an 11-18 May, the Padres are 13-11 in June heading into Tuesday night’s game against Baltimore. Despite being shut out for the 11th time this season Sunday by Cincinnati, the Padres took three of four from the Reds.
It’s part of the process for the 38-year-old Green, who led Missoula to the Pioneer League title as manager in 2012 and was Southern League Manager of the Year in 2013 and 2014, the first in the Southern League to win the honor back-to-back. He served as Arizona’s third-base coach in 2015. The Padres hired him last October.
“More than anything else you learn to work through your coaches to get what you want on the field instead of going directly to the players,” Green said of the difference between managing in the majors and minors. “You’ve got seven really smart, capable coaches in the other room instead of in the minor leagues where you’re impacting players on a daily basis.”
Green is doing what he’s always done. He’s a self-professed grinder who worked his way up the playing ranks to spend three years with the Diamondbacks, then briefly with the Mets after playing in Japan.
“Had I not had the opportunity to coach in the big leagues for a year with Arizona, a lot would have surprised me,” Green said. “That was a great training ground, great opportunity. Still learning things. Don’t know it all by any stretch.”
One thing he does know is that he was selected by National League manager Terry Collins to coach in the All-Star Game on July 12 in his home park in San Diego.
And he knows that, as the Padres showed in Cincinnati, if they can get healthy, they can make some noise.
“Baseball is incredibly tough as it is, to take those pieces away it’s tough,” Green said. “But we expect to be competitive every day and I don’t think that expectation ever changes no matter who is written in that lineup.”