Green visits 6 players in 5 states in 6 days

Green visits 6 players in 5 states in 6 days

SAN DIEGO -- When the time comes for Padres first-year manager Andy Green to address the 60 or so players in big league camp, he won't be greeted by the eyes of complete strangers.

While Green does not have many ties to the players who will comprise the Padres' roster, he certainly knows far more about his players than anything that has been gleaned from video, scouting reports or word of mouth.

Spring Training information

He has the airline miles to prove it, too.

After spending Christmas in Kentucky with family, Green set out on a six-day trip across the country to meet with a handful of players who live outside of California.

Some of the highlights of the trip were visiting a "great steakhouse" in Houston with Andrew Cashner and having Mexican food in Charlotte, N.C., with Wil Myers.

There was also a trip to Kansas to see Derek Norris, where Green probably felt like a popsicle as he braved the 14-degree temperatures in Wichita.

"A few times I looked up at the airport, unsure of what city I was flying to next," Green said, smiling. "But it was worth it."

Worth it because Green, who is big on developing relationships, didn't want his first meeting in Arizona with his players to be the first time he actually met and talked with them.

"I thought that it would be horrible to have a face-to-face introduction happen in Spring Training," Green said. "The first time you meet them, you're trying to win them with a Spring Training remark? That's not the way you do it."

Green first flew from Kentucky to Charlotte to meet with Myers. Then it was on to Tampa, where he spent two days -- the other stops were one-day trips -- to meet with Kevin Quackenbush and Melvin Upton Jr. From there, Green headed over to Nashville, Tenn., where new outfielder Jon Jay was spending time.

Jay on his move to the Padres

Green then headed to Wichita to see Norris, where he was reminded what the month of January in the Midwest feels like.

"Wichita is a lot harder place to get to than those other places. And when I got there, I think it was about 14 degrees," Green said. "I think the first question I asked Derek was, 'Why … why are you still here?' But it's home, and I get that."

Green's final stop was in Phoenix, where it was a little warmer than Wichita, to meet with Brett Wallace.

Six days, five states and six players. Roots of new relationships planted along the way.

These face-to-face meetings weren't the first for Green, who has met, sometimes occasionally, with players who live in California -- Matt Kemp, Brandon Maurer, Tyson Ross, James Shields, Nick Vincent and Alex Dickerson.

Getting to players in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela was problematic due to length of travel, though hitting coach Alan Zinter flew to Panama to meet with catcher Christian Bethancourt. Coach Eddie Rodriguez met with Yangervis Solarte in Cape Coral, Fla. Bench coach Mark McGwire met with Myers for two days. First base coach Tarrik Brock, who will work with outfielders, has spent time with Kemp.

Brock on McGwire as bench coach

Green's visits were always geared more toward listening rather than talking. They were, essentially, fact-finding missions, all while planting seeds of the player-coach relationship that will no doubt prove vital down the road.

"The whole intent was to listen … not cast some dynamic vision for this season," Green said. "It's laying a foundation. The only way that you can build anything substantial is if you generate trust. Trust only occurs when you listen to people and get to know people.

"I loved my time with the guys. I enjoyed seeing them in their hometowns. I think there are some good things ahead. I think that we have a solid foundation. We'll continue that through Spring Training."

It all begins with that first address of the team, which will likely occur the morning of Feb. 24, before the first full-squad workout and behind closed doors.

What will Green say? He wouldn't bite on that one, though he did admit that he has a better handle on that first speech after his trip to see players than he ever would have otherwise.

"That trip was about figuring out what needed to be said there," he said. "… Every group of guys is different. You have got to connect with them where they are at based on what they've experienced in the past [and] what they're hoping for this year. You've got to listen to people.

"I have a firm handle on the message that I want to communicate this spring, and I don't think I would have felt that way if I hadn't had the chance to do that [trip]."

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.