Notes: Greene optimistic about hand

Notes: Greene optimistic about hand

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Khalil Greene strolled into the clubhouse on Monday, a silver wedding ring gracing the left hand that is a lingering concern for the San Diego Padres and their fans.

Having made the former Candice Cole his bride on Nov. 18 in the Lone Star State, Greene began testing the hand with a bat about a month later and will continue the process of coming back from the injury that brought his 2006 season to a frustrating, grinding halt.

"It's about normal," Greene said of the hand, diminished severely by a sprained ligament in the middle finger on Aug. 3 while he was taking a swing against Houston. "All the hitting I've done back home [in South Carolina] is in sub-50 degrees. There's still some sense of soreness, but nothing major. It's really not a factor."

Greene, whose three seasons all have been curtailed by injuries to his hands and a toe in one case, said he has resigned himself to the occupational hazards of playing shortstop with a level of abandon.

"Each year, I go into it assuming I'm going to play the whole year, be in there every day and be productive -- not just survive the season," Greene, 27, said. "I never go into a year being pessimistic about it. I expect good things to happen.

"I don't think you're always meant to be completely successful all the time -- not just in your professional career, but in life in general."

The timing of his injury last year was especially upsetting. Greene was coming off one of the best months of his career, hitting .361 in July, but he had only one single in 26 at-bats the rest of the way, his average falling from .259 to .245.

"You take steps before you get on the field to be healthy and sound in body," Greene said. "They've all been reactionary moves, unexplained things. I don't try to analyze the way things happen -- just understand it and continue on.

"I'm certainly conscious of things I do -- diet, stretching -- to get ready to perform. There's nothing to do to prepare for bone or ligament injuries. Just bounce back."

His new manager, Bud Black, came by to say hello, as did teammates congratulating him on his marriage. Greene admitted to nerves before the ceremony in his wife's home state, but he has settled in comfortably as a married man, he said through a grin.

"I've only seen Khalil on television," Black said. "These guys in the organization rave about his defense, how he prepares for games, and they rave about his bat when he's swinging well. There are great things in there."

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Walker optimistic: Todd Walker stressed that no matter how his arbitration hearing goes on Tuesday, he is happy in San Diego -- and there will be no hard feelings if the Padres prevail with their $2.75 million offer against his $3.95 proposal.

Walker, 33, is expected to play a backup role at three positions -- first, second and third.

"Win or lose [in arbitration], I want to be back," Walker said. "Once that happens, I'm ready to play. It won't affect me after [Tuesday]. When you're younger, you want to get your at-bats, play. When you're older, you want to win.

"When you play with a team that can win a World Series, it makes it a lot more fun. Nobody has a crystal ball, but I'm going to get my at-bats."

Walker played 44 games with the Padres last year, batting .282 after arriving in a trade-deadline deal with the Chicago Cubs. He hit .278 overall, with nine homers and 53 RBIs and is a .289 career hitter.

Walker feels he'll be more attractive to other clubs looking for infield help if he loses arbitration, adding, "The lower your figure, the more chance you're going to get moved -- especially in my case, when we already have a second baseman [Marcus Giles] and third baseman [newcomer Kevin Kouzmanoff]."

Walker, Black said, "has that ability to move around the field. We love his bat, and I think he's underrated a little defensively. He's a part of this team that makes us better, absolutely."

Starting depth: Black said the club plans to keep right-handers Mike Thompson and Tim Stauffer in starting roles rather than making them candidates for middle relief openings.

Teammates the past two seasons at Triple-A Portland, Thompson and Stauffer have almost identical records as spot starters for the Padres. Thompson is 4-5 with a 4.99 ERA in 16 starts (19 games) for the Padres, while Stauffer is 4-6 with a 5.07 ERA in 15 starts (16 appearances).

"At this point in their careers, those guys are starting pitcher depth," Black said. "You look at our five guys, it's pretty set. But in this game, a lot of things can happen. That's why you have to always be ready for the opportunity if there's something unexpected on the roster."

A hard rain's gonna fall: Persistent showers shortened Monday's workout, but pitchers threw on the side under protection, and Black was pleased with their work. Clay Hensley felt he made progress with his changeup after some tips from Greg Maddux, who had Peavy reeling with a comment about "Kelly" Greene's fair skin making him vulnerable to the sun. "Who?" Peavy replied, before realizing Maddux was referring Greene. ... Adrian Gonzalez sold his Mexican restaurant in Phoenix, the new owner is turning it into a seafood establishment.

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.