Green Succeeding in new Role, Organization

SAN ANTONIO, Texas - In most people's minds, the stereotypical closer is someone that is all fire and brimstone, almost spewing hot lava as he takes the mound to finish off his wounded and beaten prey. Trevor Hoffman comes to mind, riding in on AC/DC's "Highway to Hell," or even more extreme (and far less politically correct) is the infamous John Rocker, who sprinted across Yankee Stadium's outfield to a torrid wave of boos.

This is not the case with the San Antonio Missions' Sean Green, who's playing such a role in his first year as a member of the Mariners' farm system.

"It's all the same," the cool and collected Green said of the role of closer versus that of a starter of mid-reliever. "You've just got to be able to go out and throw your pitches."

Although at times somewhat shaky with the first batter or two, the level-headed 26-year-old has been nails for the Missions to start the season, converting 10 saves thus far to lead the Texas League.

Symbolic of the Kentucky-native's demeanor, Green has shown unnerving calm when stepping up to strike the final blow, even when getting behind batters and giving up a walk, hit or run to start things off. With a 3.63 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 17.1 innings, the youngster usually succeeds in making the last frame an easy one, and has remained cool under the pressure that comes with being a closer.

"The goal is to just be consistent," Green said. "As a reliever, you don't know how many innings you're going to get the next day, so you just go at it and give your all every inning."

After a college career at Louisville, Green was taken in the 12th round of the 2000 draft, by the Colorado Rockies. The right-hander was used primarily as a set-up man in the organization, finishing last season 4-3 with a 3.03 ERA and two saves with Double-A Tulsa.

To make room on the 40-man roster for winter acquisition Adrian Beltre, the Mariners traded pitcher Aaron Taylor to Colorado for the rights to the Green, who has impressed his new coaches with his calm approach, despite being "green" to his new role.

"He's got a good demeanor for the job," said Missions manager Dave Brundage. "He goes out there and doesn't get flustered easily. He's very relaxed. We liked what he did at Tulsa last year, and he's done a nice job for us."

Green sees his new role and team as a chance to inject life and energy into a career that up until this season had produced just a 13-20 record, a 4.72 ERA and four saves.

"I just saw that (trade) as a fresh start with a new team, with the chance to be ready to play and have a good season," Green said. "It's been a good opportunity for me to be the closer, and I've had a lot of fun with it so far."

Able to hit the mid-90s with his fastball, Green has been effective in securing wins for San Antonio, but has yet to shape into that unhittable closer that spells "game over" for the opposition upon his entrance, although Brundage sees that as a possibility.

"Sean's improving every time he pitches," Brundage said. "There's not many true power sinker-ball pitchers out there, and he's got a high ceiling. He's a very talented guy."

Whether or not his future lies as a major league closer is yet to be determined, but Green, like most young minor leaguers, insists he'll pitch wherever the opportunity is.

"If that's the role the Mariners see me in, then that's good, but if not I'll be glad to pitch anywhere," Green said. "I'll take any role."

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