Well-traveled Green enjoys comforts of home

Photo by Brandon Brigman

Photo by Brandon Brigman

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Nick Green got to sleep in his own bed Sunday night, a rarity for an itinerant baseball player.

It was the same Monday night and he will have the chance again tonight. Then it is back on the bus for an overnight trip to Virginia as the Norfolk Tides conclude a three-game series with the Gwinnett Braves on Wednesday.

Being home for a few days is a welcome break for the Duluth graduate and current Lawrenceville resident. It would just be a little nicer to be playing at Turner Field rather than Coolray Field.

Since being traded by Atlanta at the end of spring training in 2005 after a promising rookie season with the Braves the year before, Green has bounced from stop to stop.

His only previous trip back home as a visiting player came in 2009, when he was Boston's regular shortstop. The Red Sox and Braves played two interleague series that year and Green won a game against his old team at Fenway Park with a walk-off home run.

That and a game-winning homer in extra innings at Turner Field shortly after he was called up by the Braves in May of 2004 remain a couple of Green's top moments. There have been some low ones, too.

Being traded unexpectedly by the Braves in 2005 was the first. Getting hurt in September of 2009 while enjoying a bounce-back season with Boston was certainly another.

Green had back surgery that fall and Baltimore is his fourth organization since -- bringing his total to 10.

At 32, there may not be that many more opportunities. But Green isn't ready to hang up his spikes any time soon.

"As long as it's fun, I'll keep playing," he said before Monday night's series opener against the G-Braves. "When I start thinking about killing myself, I'll know it's time to quit."

Green is a survivor. He's been counted out before and bounced back.

Last season, the utility man played five games with the Los Angeles Dodgers and nine with Toronto. That brought his total of major league teams to seven.

Green also spent time with Albuquerque and Portland in the Class AAA Pacific Coast League. Norfolk is his 13th minor league stop.

If nothing else, he has seen a lot of the country. That's why being home for a few days is such a nice diversion.

Green lives off Old Peachtree Road, only about six miles from Coolray Field. His parents have just a short trip to watch him play and his twin brother, Kevin, drove down from his home in Greenville, S.C., for Monday night's game to make it a real family affair.

"It took me less than 10 minutes to get here," Green said of his trip from home. "I'm used to getting off I-85 at this exit, but I usually turn left instead of right."

That, of course, is to head to the Mall of Georgia. But Green did take a side trip last winter to look at three-year-old Coolray Field.

The Braves haven't been one of the teams that have shown interest in Green the last few years, even though he lives nearby. He signed with the Orioles this winter knowing that he'd at least get a chance to compete for a major league spot during spring training.

Green hit two homers and drove in six runs during Grapefruit League play, but batted just .158 with 17 strikeouts in 38 at-bats. That's not the way to win a spot and Baltimore went with Robert Andino as the backup infielder.

"I changed some things at the plate and felt good by the end of spring training," Green said. "But by then it was too late."

So it was back to Class AAA and the International League, where he first played with Richmond in 2003.

About the only place Green hasn't played is the Far East.

"You can make good money in Japan, but for them to be interested you'd have to be coming off a good season," Green said. "And when you have a good season over here, all you're thinking about is getting back to the majors."

Green was at shortstop for the series opener against the G-Braves, but he's already played a game in left field and one as a DH for Norfolk. He is also likely to see duty at third and second base with the Tides.

With all that moving around on the field, being home for at least a few days is even nicer. Green, of course, would like nothing better than to be promoted to Baltimore as soon as possible. But Norfolk has two more trips to Gwinnett later this season.

"I looked at the schedule and saw that," Green said. "I just wish this was a four-game series instead of three. But I'll take it. It's nice to be home for at least a little while."