In his role with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Steve Green is never sure when he's going to be pitching or what the situation will be. Lately, Green has been getting a little stretched out in terms of both how long he goes between outings and in how long he's on the mound, but of course, that sort of goes hand-in-hand. In terms of what have you done for me lately, Green's last outing - on May 10 - was his best of the season and he gave the IronPigs 3.2 innings of relief when they desperately needed it. That night saw Green come on in relief Gary Knotts, who was thrown into a starting job for the 'Pigs. Lehigh Valley manager Dave Huppert was in need of someone who would eat up some innings and Green was there to provide just that. "He was throwing really well," said Huppert of Green, who picked up his first win of the season for that outing. "Actually, he's thrown pretty well for us lately," added Huppert.
Green, who signed with the Phillies as a minor league free agent during the off-season, had a brief stint with the Angels in 2001, making one start and giving them six strong innings, but getting no decision. Now, he's doing all he can to find a way back to the majors and is hoping that the road runs somewhere near Coca-Cola Park and winds up in a Major League city. "Oh man, I can't wait to get back," said Green, who always keeps a positive attitude about his career and life in general. "This is great. Pitching in this environment is a lot of fun. It's no secret that I want to be in the majors, but if you have to be in the minors, this [Lehigh Valley] is a great place to be," said Green.
Throughout his career, Green has been one of those guys who can look stellar one day and then look rough around the edges the next. In fact, he's had seasons that looked stellar only to follow that up with a season that would see him post sub-par numbers. Some of his best work though has come as a starter, primarily earlier in his career. Now, Green has been used primarily as a reliever the last two seasons and isn't sure where he'll eventually end up. "I just want to pitch. I enjoyed starting, I won't lie to you. It's nice to know when you're going to pitch and be able to prepare for that, but that's not to say that I don't like relieving or that I don't want to do it." The May 10 outing was a perfect example, since Green had a pretty good feeling he would be in the game that night, since it was one of those "bullpen games" that managers sometimes have to string together. Green hadn't pitched in five days, so it figured that he would be running out there at some point. "It was a little like starting in that I figured I would be pitching, but I just wasn't quite sure what inning it would be and I figured they would need me to go for a few innings, too," said Green after the win. In all honesty, it's a little tough to imagine Green getting an opportunity to head to Philadelphia this season, unless his numbers show a sharp improvement and the Phillies both need relief help and also can't find relief help from anywhere else. A long shot, indeed.
Many times, Green lives and dies with his curveball. When he's got the curve, he's a completely different pitcher on the mound. "When I can get that curve over, it lets me pitch backwards," explained Green. "If it's [the curve] is working for me, I'll throw it at any point in the count and that's when I can relax on the mound." Pitching coach Rod Nichols agreed with Green when it comes to how he can use his curve. "He keeps that curve down in the zone and it's a tough pitch to hit. The other key for Green is getting ahead in the count; that's really the key for him on the mound," said Nichols. 'Pigs catcher Jason Jaramillo gets a front row seat to see the curveball and he likes what he sees from the 30 year old right-hander. "It's sort of fun to catch Steve when that curveball is working, because you can do things differently than you normally do. You don't have to set up his curve, you can just throw it whenever you want," said Jaramillo.
So, now that he's 30, does Green still believe there's time for him to make that trip to a Major League city? "Oh, I won't give up on that. You have to be realistic, but right now, I don't feel like I'm out of time. I understand that time is starting to wind down a little, but there's definitely still time to make things happen. All it's going to take is putting myself in the right situation and then making it work for me."