Nick Green has had a rough start to 2017 for the Charleston RiverDogs, but he’s not looking to make any excuses as to how the season has started.
“The breaking ball just wasn’t there that night. I had to figure out a way around that, and luckily my fastball command was there, so I was able to battle through the innings. I just think I got to keep focusing on that breaking ball even if it is windy, even if it’s not the conditions I want it to be, there’s no excuse for that,” Green said of his opening night struggles which resulted in a loss.
On Opening Night, Green pitched just two and one-thirds innings allowing four runs, all earned, giving up five hits. In his second start, Green allowed six runs, only three earned, while allowing four runs in four innings pitched.
Green came over in the trade that sent Carlos Betran from the New York Yankees to the Texas Rangers and was very impressive, especially his stint in Charleston. With the RiverDogs, Green was 3-0 with a 1.06 ERA.
At the end of last season, Green talked about how he planned to work out and get stronger for 2017. “Worked out a lot. A whole lot of working out, a whole lot of mental focus to help stay focused on working out and getting bigger, so that helped me a lot and I think I’m a lot stronger this year, so I think I completed that goal,” Green said. “I went a little bit heavier than I usually do, but nothing too crazy. Kept it simple, kept it really good with the workouts. I just pushed up the weight a little bit, and it helped me out.”
Even with the early season struggles for Green, there’s a lot to be optimistic about. Green throws a fastball that touches the mid-90s, a changeup and a curveball that his manager, Pat Osborn raves about. “What a great curveball – wow! I haven’t seen a curveball like that in a longtime. And then you notice all the ground balls that he generates. It’s amazing. I think his ground ball percentage is like 60% and the league average for his leagues he’s played is like 40. He’s 20% higher than the averages regarding generating ground balls,” Osborn said.
As far as Green’s scouting report of himself, here’s his assessment of himself, “I’d say my fastball for my primary pitch would be my best pitch because I get ground balls pretty often with that and I really like getting ground balls, helping my fielders work, and I have a lot of trust in those guys, so I’m pretty pumped about the infield I got here. I’m not worried about pitching around guys. My fastball is my best pitch in that sense,” Green said. “Talking to the catchers, his fastball cuts a little bit; sometimes it’ll sink. Good little changeup. Strike thrower. Very composed on the mound but he’s going to get a lot of swings and misses with that curveball, and he’s going to get a lot of weak contact with that fastball,” his manager, Osborn, said.
With his pitching style, Green trusts his defense completely. “Anywhere I go, I think I’m just going to trust my guys because I’m going to be my best for them and they’re going to do their best for me. I’m not going to worry about what they’re doing because I know they’re very talented. I know that everywhere in this org, the defense behind me is very, very talented. I’m just excited to get them ground balls to pitch to my strengths because I have that defense behind me. I’m just excited about that,” Green said.
Green spoke of how unified the team, and more specifically the pitching staff has been to start the season. “We talk amongst each about our strengths, our weaknesses. I think we learn a lot from them. Popey (Pitching Coach Justin Pope) does a great job uniting us as a team keeping us together and Oz (Manager Osborn) as well. I think this organization and this group of guys in Charleston is a great group of guys and the pitching staff is unbelievable. We have a lot of talent to learn from and a lot of talent to go off,” Green said.
Although he doesn’t focus on what the offense is doing, he’s certainly appreciative of their efforts and how it helps him relax on the mound. “They’re going to do their job, and I’m going to do mine. If I put up a zero, they only have to get one run. I’m hoping to do my best for them because they’re putting up eight runs a night. I’m excited for that, but my job is to put up a zero, and they’re going to do their best to put up an eight every night. It takes a lot of pressure off, but there’s no need for me to not put up a zero.”
Green looks to where he’s playing as well to keep him focused and grounded and spoke of the differences between pitching in Spokane and Charleston. “This city is a beautiful city. Spokane is a very beautiful city. They were more of a northern area; it’s more like mountainous. Nothing too much different in my routine. I’m more of an outdoorsy kind of guy. This place has a river, a beautiful area wherever we go. Every chance we get, I like to be outside, that clears my head. When I have that kind of moment and look at the beautiful city of Charleston and Spokane, it’s unbelievable. I’ve been blessed to play in some great places.”