Green signs contract with Yankees

Duluth's Nick Green knows all about a short commute from Class AAA to the majors, just like there will be from Gwinnett County to Atlanta beginning in 2009.

The former Braves infielder played for Seattle and Class AAA Tacoma last year, but he won't be back with the Mariners this season.

Green signed a minor league contract with the New York Yankees and will get a chance to make the big league roster in spring training. But if he doesn't, he'll start the season playing for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees in the International League.

That's the same AAA league in which Gwinnett will have a team after the Richmond Braves relocate. Green is excited about his home county getting its own minor league team.

"I think they'll draw big crowds," Green said. "It should work out great."

Last season, Green played part of the season in the Class AAA Pacific Coast League at Tacoma, which neighbors Seattle.

"Some players lived half way between, so they'd be close whether they were playing in the minors or the majors," Green said.

But the state-of-the-art stadium in Gwinnett will make for a far different situation than in Tacoma.

"That ballpark is old and ratty," Green said of Cheney Stadium, which is almost 50 years old. "It's worse than Richmond."

That is saying something, since it was an outdated facility that made the Braves pull out of Richmond for Gwinnett.

"There is comparison between the old and new stadiums," Green said. "I played in Indianapolis, and that was a great place. I'm sure that Gwinnett will be top of the line, too."

Green had lived a vagabond baseball existence since hitting .273 in 95 games as a rookie with Atlanta in 2004. The 29-year-old has been in four organizations since - Tampa Bay, the Yankees, Pittsburgh and Seattle.

Now Green is with the Yankees again.

"My agent talked once with the Braves," Green said. "But there really wasn't a shot there. I think that New York is the best situation for me. They may need a utility guy."

Green batted .337 and slugged 16 homers in 66 games for Tacoma last season, but was 0-for-7 after a September call up. That dropped his career average to .240 in 275 major league games.

Green, who can also play the outfield, is hitting three times a week and hopes to make a favorable impression on the Yankees this spring.

No matter how good the minor league ballpark, it is the majors where every player wants to be.

"I just have to keep giving it my best shot," Green said.