Grant Green was preparing for a River Cats game three summers ago when he learned the A’s, who had made him a first-round draft pick, were trading him to the Los Angeles Angels.
Last week, Green again expected to be in Sacramento’s lineup when he was told he was being called up to the majors – by the Giants.
While Green was in the Angels’ organization, Sacramento’s minor-league team switched affiliations. So when the infielder signed a minor-league deal with the Giants last winter and did not make San Francisco’s roster out of spring training, he found himself back in the familiar environs of Raley Field, which he called home for parts of two seasons in the A’s system.
Green’s tenure as a Giants-affiliated River Cat lasted 65 games before San Francisco called him up to bolster its infield, which has four players – Joe Panik, Matt Duffy, Ehire Adrianza and Kelby Tomlinson – on the disabled list. Green made his Giants debut last Thursday – against the A’s, ironically, at the Oakland Coliseum.
Green, 28, already has played more games in a Giants uniform (six) than he did with the A’s (five). Oakland thought enough of Green to make him the 13th overall pick in 2009 out of USC, ahead of such players as A.J. Pollock, Shelby Miller and Mike Trout. Green hit his way up the team’s minor-league system and made his big-league debut on July 8, 2013. Three weeks later, Oakland dealt him to the Angels for infielder Alberto Callaspo.
The trade jolted Green, who had gone 0 for 15 for the A’s after hitting .325 for Sacramento.
“It’s kind of hard to say you got a chance when you played five games in the big leagues,” Green said of his time with the A’s. “I know I went 0 for 15, but in the same sense it was my first call-up, and stuff happens. I ended up facing some pretty good pitchers. But you can’t really say you gave someone a shot when you give them 15 at-bats.”
Green played in 104 games in three seasons with the Angels – batting .263 – but shuttled between Anaheim and Triple-A Salt Lake before being designated for assignment last September. When the Giants expressed interest in bringing him to spring camp, Green, who grew up in Southern California rooting for the Giants, agreed despite knowing San Francisco has a young, established infield that is among the majors’ best.
“They were straight up,” said Green, who talked with general manager Bobby Evans and manager Bruce Bochy. “They said, ‘Our infield is pretty much set, we’re looking for utility guys, and we see you as one of those guys.’ I said, ‘All right.’ ”
The question regarding Green, a career .307 minor-league hitter, has always been where he fits defensively. Drafted as a shortstop, the 6-foot-3, 180-pound Green has played 241 games there in the minors, as well as 124 games at second base, 97 in left field, 78 in center field, 57 at third base and 49 at first. He shrugged when asked if moving around so much has affected his development.
“I don’t think it’s hindered it at all,” Green said. “Does it (stink) not having a position? Of course. But in the same sense, there’s not many people that come up playing one position. I think if I would have been able to get a legit shot (with the A’s or Angels), I would’ve proven that I should have been there and stayed there.”
His opportunity with the Giants may again be limited. Tomlinson is rehabbing from a thumb injury in Sacramento, and the Giants hope to have Panik (concussion) and Duffy (Achilles’ strain) back shortly after the All-Star break.
For now, though, Green is seeing regular time at second base for the Giants, including a start against Colorado Rockies left-hander Jorge De La Rosa on Wednesday in which he singled and walked in four plate appearances and scored twice. Green is batting .320 (8 for 25) with four runs and two RBIs for San Francisco.
“I feel most comfortable right now at second, just because I’ve played it the most the last couple years,” Green said. “But I still have the mindset of a shortstop, of going to get the ball and trying to be as athletic as I can on everything.”