Rangers, Greene complete deal
Veteran to fill utility infielder role held last year by Vizquel
ARLINGTON -- Khalil Greene has officially joined the Rangers to begin a new chapter in his once-promising Major League career.After six seasons as a front-line Major League shortstop and after going through two years of dealing with personal issues, Greene has joined the Rangers as their utility infielder.
He understands he will not be an everyday player. He said he is willing to do whatever the Rangers ask. That includes playing first base on occasion, a position he has never played before in his baseball career."This is a situation that will be good for me in a lot of ways," Greene said. "It's an exciting team to play for and it looks like a neat place to play. There are a lot of things that work in my favor. I'm ready to help the team out in whatever capacity they need me to do." Greene agreed to a one-year, $750,000 to replace Omar Vizquel as the Rangers' utility infielder. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Rangers designated outfielder Greg Golson for assignment. "We still feel Khalil has a lot left," general manager Jon Daniels said. "He has a lot of ability. Obviously, Khalil has the ability to play every day. We did a lot of homework on him. He has right-handed power, he can play defense, move around and he takes his craft seriously. Everyone we talked to said he comes to the park ready to play and wants to win. That's what we're trying to do." Greene spent five years as the Padres' starting shortstop before being traded to the Cardinals on Dec. 4, 2008. He was the Cardinals' Opening Day shortstop, but struggled for the first two months of the season and was hitting .200 when the Cards put him on the disabled list on May 29 for social anxiety disorder. He was activated on June 18, but the Cardinals had already decided to go with Brendan Ryan as their shortstop. Greene was used at third base but went back on the disabled list on June 29 again for social anxiety disorder. He was activated on Aug. 1, but Greene was used sparingly down the stretch and was not placed on the Cardinals' playoff roster. Greene said he has learned to deal with his issues and is trying to get back to the point where he can enjoy the game again. The focus is on work and preparation and not getting caught up in the results. "It wasn't different than a lot of people who deal with stress and pressure of everyday life," Greene said. "A lot of stuff was skewed. The second time I was on the disabled list and after I came off, I felt reborn as a player. I was able to enjoy what I was doing. Even though I wasn't playing much, I felt happy to be there. "I just want to be on the field. I just want to keep playing the game as long as I want to. I just want to keep growing as a player and as an individual and get better in all areas." He joins a team that has a set infield of Chris Davis at first base, Ian Kinsler at second, Elvis Andrus at short and Michael Young at third base. The Rangers want him to be able to play all four infield positions. "We're very fortunate to get a guy of his quality," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He has such tremendous hands and instincts, adjusting to another position won't be a problem." The Rangers primarily wanted a utility infielder who can play shortstop. That was most important. Andrus enters his second season in the Majors, and the Rangers still don't want to overdo it with him over 162 games. "I still plan to make sure Elvis stays strong the whole year," Washington said. "It worked out pretty good last year. We're certainly going to monitor his playing time as we always do. He's still a young guy trying to find his way." The other pressing infield need is a right-handed-hitting first baseman to go with Davis. The Rangers plan on Davis being their everyday first baseman, but they also know he hit .189 with a .311 slugging percentage against left-handed pitchers in 2009. Greene has never played first base before, but the Rangers want him to learn the position and he is willing to do so. "I certainly don't have any particular problems playing first," Greene said. "I've never played there before, but if I get enough repetitions, I don't see it as a problem." Greene was originally the Padres' first pick (13th overall) in the 2002 First-Year Player Draft. He made his Major League debut in September 2003, and was their starting shortstop in '04. He batted .273 with 15 home runs, 65 RBIs, a .349 on-base percentage and a .446 slugging percentage while finishing second behind Pirates outfielder Jason Bay in the Rookie of the Year voting. His best season was in 2007, when he hit .254 with 27 home runs and 97 RBIs, but Greene dropped to .235 with 10 home runs and 35 RBIs the following season. His season ended at the end of July when he broke his hand in frustration by punching a storage chest outside the Padres' dugout.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.