FORT WAYNE, Ind. —Catcher Marcus Greene was acquired from the Texas Rangers, along with RHP Jon Edwards, for outfielder Will Venable in one of Padres’ General Manager A.J. Preller’s first trades in late August of 2015.
Greene, 22, was selected by the Rangers in the sixteenth round of the 2013 draft out of New Mexico Junior College in Hobbs, New Mexico where he hit .384/.465/.727 in his only collegiate season. Last year he battled through a variety of injuries hitting .189/.268/.331 between High-A Lake Elsinore and Low-A Fort Wayne.
However, he was able to get healthy and put together a strong winter in the Australian Baseball League at .307/.333/.457 with six home runs in 38 games.
For 2017 he is the everyday catcher for the TinCaps and the 5-foot-11, 220-pound California native is having his best year at the plate hitting .265/.359/.363 going into Tuesday night’s game. More importantly, he is entrusted with guiding some of the Padres’ better young arms though their first full-season league.
We caught up with Marcus to talk about his preparation and his winter abroad.
How do you get on the same page with a new pitcher when he first arrives?
Marcus Greene: When the new pitchers come into town I usually have some experience with them from Spring Training, because we really try to mix it up there with bullpens and in the games.
So I have a feel for them even if they don’t break with the team.
I was at Spring Training, that is a lot of guys.
Marcus Greene: [laughs] Yes, there are a lot of bodies.
So when you go into the meetings before a series are you mapping out the different hitters and trying to combine their weaknesses and the pitcher’s strengths?
Marcus Greene: Overall I’m just mainly trying to understand what my guy is capable off. Of course we have a pretty good understanding of what the hitters can do, but at the main thing is to stick to our strengths.
I’m always amazed how much catchers have to do in the minor leagues. Here you catch bullpens, if you have the catching instructor coming in you are doing drills – which usually involve blocking, weights, hitting, pitchers meetings and then you get to squat for nine innings.
How do you do it?
Marcus Greene: It’s only two months into the season, so there is a lot left. You have to get your rest and take care of your body.
I can imagine once you get back to your apartment its couch time.
Marcus Greene: Oh yeah, you try to decelerate a little bit, maybe do a quick stretch and make sure I’m hydrated. Get up early the next day and start it all over again.
What is more exhausting for you the physical or mental demands of the job?
Marcus Greene: I’m not sure what is more difficult because if you don’t prepare for either one you are going to be in trouble.
Whenever I talk to anyone in the organization they always emphasize how important the defensive and game-calling aspects of the game are. All those can be great, but at the same time if you don’t hit, you aren’t going to play.
This year you look much more comfortable at the plate. What changed for you?
Marcus Greene: For me, I like to create a good relationship. That has to come first, or you shouldn’t catch. From an offensive standpoint, you got to hit the ball. I reverted back to what I did in Junior College, where I had some success. Mainly it was just about going back to the type of mindset that I had.
My confidence came back and that has helped me.
You have some movement to your swing and it kind of looks like you are “dancing with the pitcher.” Do you ever worry about timing issues?
Marcus Greene: I get my timing down when I am in the on-deck circle. I try to get them from the stretch and wind-up. I don’t take to many hacks in the on-deck circle because my focus is on the pitcher.
Do you find yourself thinking like a catcher at the plate because so much of your job is about getting people out?
Marcus Greene: For me I just stay on the fastball. I don’t try to revert back to what I would call as a catcher because that is how you get in trouble. You have to stay on the heater.
We talked in Spring Training a little bit about your winter ball experience in Australia. What was the biggest thing you learned on the field and the most fun you had off of the field – remember its a family site.
Marcus Greene: [laughs] Most fun on the field was being able to go to a new country that I didn’t know much about and playing with a group of guys that were really trying to elevate their game in South Australia. It was a great experience that I am really thankful for.
One of my teammates I had played ball with in Junior College and he was on my team so that was great.
Off of the field I went deep sea fishing for my first time and caught a blue fin tuna so that was great. Just being able to experience different things and see what the world is capable off was a great time.