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Sarah's Take: Shawn Green's amazing week
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05/27/2002 5:45 pm ET 
Sarah's Take: Shawn Green's amazing week
By Sarah Morris / Dodgers.Com

"Awesome is the only word to describe Green's performance last week. In my opinion, everyone would be shocked if Shawn Green was not named the National League Player of the Week." (Jon SooHoo/Dodgers)

Before this road trip began, Shawn Green was mired in a horrible slump, maybe the worst slump of his career.

Many people thought he could not duplicate what he did last season without Gary Sheffield hitting behind him. To me, it was hogwash.

Protecting a power hitter in the lineup is nice, but it is overrated. Green is a good hitter in his own right regardless of who bats behind him. Though Eric Karros, Paul Lo Duca, and Brian Jordan have not developed a reputation as hitters as dangerous as Sheffield, they are good hitters completely capable of making the opposition pitch to Green.

Many people were criticizing the Dodgers for giving Green such a long expensive contract. The likable Green was adding pressure on himself because he wants to please everybody.

I felt sorry for Green. I thought most of the criticism was not deserved. A player is not responsible for a team's offensive woes. For this entire season, Green had said that he was not comfortable with his swing. It seemed to be longer than it was last year when he established a franchise record for home runs with 49. Green spent many hours with Jack Clark trying to solve the problem.

Because Green has a calm demeanor, many people believe Green does not care how he does. This is a misconception. Green cares deeply how he does and how his team performs. He is not a cheerleader type, so many people do not view him as a team leader. His class and work ethic have earned the respect of his teammates and other players around the league.

Though Green's offensive skills get the headlines, he is an excellent defensive right fielder. His long legs make it look effortless and elegant as Green covers the territory in right field. The way Green plays right field is often compared to how Joe DiMaggio played center field. Green's arm will not make the crowd go wow as when Raul Mondesi played in Los Angeles, but Green's throws resemble low lasers. Green's defense is crucial to the Dodgers.

Last Saturday night Jim Tracy decided to rest Green. This has been unheard of while Green has worn a Dodger uniform. Before this year, he had missed only one game (on a Jewish holiday) as a Dodger. Earlier this month, Green had to sit out a game after being hit on the hand by Tom Glavine. To me, this injury contributed to Green's slump.

Though no player likes to sit on the bench, sometimes it helps him to break out of a slump. While sitting on the bench, the player can step back from the game and see a different side of it. He also hears his teammates discussing how they would approach facing the opposing pitcher. Sitting on the bench does break the rhythm of the recent games for a player. Before last Saturday, Green had not hit a ball out of the infield during the home stand.

Sunday Green had a double.

Tuesday night in Milwaukee Green had two home runs, and one was to the opposite field. To me, Green's slump was over.

Wednesday night Green tripled in the only run of the game. Though Green struck out twice, he said, "I felt really good even in the strikeouts."

Thursday Green became the seventh Dodger to have six hits in a game. Paul Lo Duca accomplished this amazing feat last Memorial Day. Green became the first Dodger to have four home runs in a game since Gil Hodges did that in August, 1950.

After Green hit his fourth home run, Green showed his class when he put his head down and simply rounded the bases. Obviously, he was excited about his unbelievable accomplishment, but he did not want to show up the opposition. The Brewers and their fans appreciated Green's consideration about their feelings. The Brewers' fans gave Green a standing ovation to recognize his accomplishment.

Green's name is linked with Dodger greats Duke Snider and Gil Hodges. Green commented, "It is incredible to me to realize some of the names. To have my name in the same breath is amazing to me."

Green says his double in his first at-bat relaxed him. If Shawn Green can remain relaxed and block out the high expectations, he will be fine and lead the Dodger offensive attack.

Thursday was the best personal performance by a player that I have ever witnessed. Neither Green nor I will forget it soon.

Friday Green homered in his first at-bat against Curt Schilling. He also had two singles. Thus, it gave Green twenty-five total bases in two games. This matched a major league record held by the legendary Ty Cobb.

Saturday Green propelled the Dodgers to an important victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks. In this game, Green had six RBI and two more home runs. He established a National League record for most home runs during a calendar week, starting on Sunday and ending on Saturday. With nine home runs Green fell one short from tying the major league record held by a former Dodger Frank Howard.

Green broke his bat on his last homer on Saturday. His broken bat is headed to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Awesome is the only word to describe Green's performance last week. In my opinion, everyone would be shocked if Shawn Green was not named the National League Player of the Week.

Many Dodger fans wanted Green to remain on the bench a week ago. Now Green is the toast of the city. Thus, it is the life of a baseball player. The players cannot get too high when they do well or too low when they struggle. We as fans should demonstrate patience with a player until the end of the season.

I wish Green well for the rest of the season.

Sarah Morris is the editor of Dodger Place. She lives in Anderson, Texas.
 





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