Greene Gets An Outfield Opportunity

Infielder's path to the big leagues may have a detour





JUPITER, Fla.—As he begins what could be a defining season for his career, 2005 first-round pick Tyler Greene had a familiar opportunity with a new twist: The infielder's shot at the majors could come via the outfield.

Greene, 27, was told at the start of big league spring training that to find him at-bats during exhibition games he would spend innings in center field. Greene will get a look at the foreign position as a righthanded complement to lefthanded hitter and starter Colby Rasmus.

"I just view it as another way to stay on the team," Greene said. "They've got a lot of veteran players ahead of me (in the infield). Just kind of see it as an extra way, a little advantage I might be able to have over other guys."

That Greene would find his career crossing paths with Rasmus is fitting. In 2005, the Cardinals planned to take Greene at No. 28 and Rasmus at No. 30 in the draft, and they had negotiated bonuses based on those spots. But on draft day, the Cardinals caught wind of the Marlins angling for Rasmus and took him at No. 28. Greene was there at No. 30, and the Cardinals paid him the higher bonus.

In his first full pro season, Greene hit 20 homers and stole 33 bases. A knee injury slowed his climb to the majors, and his bat has kept him from staying. In 92 games with the Cardinals over two seasons, Greene has hit .222/.300/.325 with 56 strikeouts in 212 at-bats. The trade of Brendan Ryan opened up a spot for Greene to win a utility role for 2011, and a spring injury to Nick Punto put Greene in position to back up third base as well as middle-infield spots.

REDBIRD CHIRPS

• Carlos Martinez, the Cardinals' big-bonus get from the Dominican and one of the finer arms in the system, will make his domestic debut during a special mini-camp for the club's top minor league pitchers.  

• Though he's ticketed for Triple-A, Bryan Anderson got experience with major league pitchers during spring training to prep him as the team's de facto No. 3 catcher.