RHP Sean Green (Photo/Stephanie Sanchez)
TACOMA, Wash. - It’s not surprising that Sean Green was promoted to Triple-A Tacoma in late May. The lanky right hander was leading the Texas League in saves and the Rainiers' bullpen needed help due to an injury to George Sherrill.
What is surprising is that two months later, Green is still on the Rainiers’ roster. The sinkerball pitcher has carved out a niche in a Rainiers' bullpen that has become much more crowded lately.
“He’s very talented,” Rainiers pitching coach Rafael Chaves said. “He has a pitch that not many people have, a tremendous sinking fastball.”
The 26-year-old Green came to the Mariners this offseason in a trade with the Colorado Rockies for Aaron Taylor. He began the year in Double-A San Antonio as the closer for the Missions and was successful in the new role.
“It’s my first season I’ve been a closer and it’s nice coming out there when the game’s on the line,” said Green. “Obviously, closing’s a nice place to be, but I make the best out of anything. I’m fine with any situation they put me in.”
That flexible attitude has served Green well the last two months in Tacoma, where the 6-foot-6 reliever has been asked to do everything from saving games to eating innings in blowouts. Sean is enjoying the transition, and the opportunity to prove himself at a higher level.
“It’s been good,” Green says. “No matter where you go, you have to do the same things - throw strikes and throw good pitches. I was excited obviously to get the chance to come up here. It was a good feeling.”
And the Louisville alum has made the most of his opportunities for the Rainiers, posting a 2-2 record with one save. The sinkerballer has struck out 24 batters in his 27 1/3 innings pitched.
For Green, the experience and intelligence of hitters at the Triple-A level has been the biggest difference.
“From top to bottom in the lineup, you’re going to see guys who’ve been around longer,” Green explains. “They might not let you get away with many mistakes. But it’s close to the same thing. Whatever level you’re at, if you make mistakes you’re going to get hurt. So you go out there and throw your best pitch every time.”
As with many young pitchers, Green has struggled with consistency in his outings with the Rainiers. In his last two outings, he's allowed five earned runs in just 1.1 innings pitched. Coach Chaves is working closely with the righty to improve his control.
“He’s had a few good outings and a couple of rough outings,” says Chaves. “We’re trying to make sure he stays closed on the front side, because he has a tendency to fly open that causes him to leave pitches on the right side of the plate. If that happens he’ll be able to throw more strikes.”
Green knows that success as a reliever comes with reliability. That’s why consistency comes up often when discussing ways he can improve.
“Being more consistent,” says Green about his goals. “Just to go out and put a more consistent effort out there every time. I want to finish [the season] out strong and see what happens from there.”
Chaves has an idea where Green could end up, if he continues to work on his skills.
“If he can come up with a good breaking ball and a good changeup,” says Chaves, “he should have a good chance to play in the majors.”
Imagine, a 6-foot-6 righty coming out of the pen with a power sinker, a slider and a changeup. That would be a pleasant surprise for Mariners fans and make that Aaron Taylor trade look like a steal.