March 16, 2009

Greene looking good in Cardinal Red

There's always a lot of plus/minus in a Spring Training game, but the Cardinals new shortstop, Khalil Greene, was well onto the plus-side today versus the Tigers.

Greene showed excellent range to his right, made the basic ground ball plays, and was especially tough at the plate, going 3-for-3, among those hits, a bases-loaded (and clearing) double.

Last year Greene had a rough go of it with the Padres, to the point where the frustration got to him. But that's not always the worst thing in the world. Getting bent out of shape sometimes is a sure sign a person cares about whatever it is that is ticking him off.

In Greene's case, a drop in hitting production had become an overwhelming issue.

Greene was a questionable acquisition to much of Cardinal Nation, but I felt he would rebound, simply based on the talent he portrayed previously, even when struggling. So far, Greene is fitting into his Cardinals uniform better and better as the spring progresses.

Today, versus the Tigers, his hitting mechanics were quite solid. Most impressive was his ability to stay back on any speed, including the heat, then open up with the front side in an explosive hip rotation, generating enough bat speed to yet be ahead of fast balls that he laced down the third base line, twice.

Greene hopped a hard grounder up the middle for another hit, his mechanics sound as before. These mechanics were solidified by a still head, putting together three excellent at bats.

The ability to lay off pitches outside a zone he was looking for helped a lot as well. Chasing garbage pitches often sends good hitting mechanics into the toilet.

If only Greene knew how was going to be playing to left and right, he could work on how he will play in more defensive situations, regarding positioning, but not to ignore the critical work that goes into double plays. The absence of Jose Oquendo isn't helping Greene's preparation either.

Considering these latter factors, plus the look of Greene's performance, there's a lot of hope for a solid season at shortstop for the Cardinals.