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Rangers reel in Greene for utility role

Rangers reel in Greene for utility role

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ARLINGTON -- The Rangers added a designated hitter and a utility infielder all in the same weekend.

While getting a deal done with Vladimir Guerrero, sources said the Rangers were also able to work out a one-year agreement with free-agent shortstop Khalil Greene to fill their need for a utility infielder.

The deal is pending a physical but Greene, who spent last season with the Cardinals, has agreed to a one-year, $750,000 contract. He replaces Omar Vizquel, who filled that role last year, but signed early in the offseason with the White Sox.

The Rangers' main concern was finding a utility infielder who can play shortstop and Greene more than satisfies that goal. He has had some personal issues to deal with over the past few seasons, but was a front-line shortstop for the Padres for several years. He also played 16 games at third base for the Cardinals in 2009.

His best season was in 2007, when he hit .254 with 27 home runs and 97 RBIs in 153 games and 659 at-bats for the Padres. He also finished fourth in the league among shortstops in fielding percentage. He was traded to the Cardinals on Dec. 4, 2008 with the intention of being their starting shortstop.

But he struggled through the first two months of the season and was hitting .200 when the Cardinals put him on the disabled list on May 29 for social anxiety disorder. He was activated on June 18, but had lost his starting job to Brendan Ryan. The Cardinals used him at third base, but he went back on the disabled list on June 29 again for social anxiety disorder.

He was activated on Aug. 1, but was used sparingly down the stretch as the Cardinals won the National League Central. Greene was not on the postseason roster. He ended up hitting .200 with six home runs and 24 RBIs in 77 games and 170 at-bats. He has been working out this offseason at Vanderbilt with his former college coach, Tim Corbin.

"I hope someone gives him a shot," Corbin told ESPN.com a few days ago. "He is working very diligently on his defense and on his offense in our cages, three or four hours a day."

Greene was originally drafted by the Padres in the first round of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft out of Clemson. He was the 13th overall pick. The Rangers used the 10th overall selection to draft shortstop Drew Meyer out of the South Carolina.

Greene proved to be the better pick. He was a September callup for the Padres in 2003 and then took over as their shortstop in '04, hitting .273 with 15 home runs, 65 RBIs, a .349 on-base percentage and a .446 slugging percentage. He finished second behind Pirates outfielder Jason Bay in the Rookie of the Year voting.

Greene had three solid seasons to start his Major League career, then seemed to really start taking off offensively with his big season in 2007. But he was unable to build on that. Instead, he slumped to .213 with 10 home runs and 35 RBIs in 105 games and 389 at-bats in 2008.

His season was also cut short at the end of July, when he broke a bone in his left hand, an injury that occurred when he punched a storage chest outside the Padres dugout at Petco Park. That was the first sign that he was going through some difficult personal issues and he was traded after the season.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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