LOS ANGELES -- Shawn Green spoke to Dodgers prospects at last week's winter development camp, but he also spoke with new manager Don Mattingly, a conversation delayed by 15 years. "His last year was my first full year, 1995, and I was looking forward to reaching first base to tell him he was my favorite player growing up," said Green, now 38. "I didn't get a hit the first game of our last series, didn't play the next game, then got three doubles and never had the chance to tell him." So the chance finally came last week and Green told Mattingly that when he was a young teenager, he played with a Don Mattingly baseball card inside of his cap "for good luck."
"I always tried to mold myself after the best left-handed hitters like him, Wade Boggs and Rod Carew," said Green. "Mattingly was the one I loved to watch and I wanted to tell him he was my favorite player. But I was shy, a quiet guy coming up and it would have been a big deal to tell him, but I never had the chance. I did it last week through different eyes, but it made me feel good to do it. Even at the camp, some of the young players said they watched me play and that made me feel good." Green was invited back for the second year to speak with the young players and share his stand-up approach to being a Major Leaguer. The rest of us will get a chance to see what baseball and life were like for Green later this summer, when he releases a book he's spent the last 18 months writing titled "The Way of Baseball -- Finding Stillness at 95 mph." "I've always been into Eastern philosophy and that approach to life," he said. "It's the way I carried myself on the field, with less emotion and more centered in a lot of ways. At times I was criticized for that, but it's the way I viewed life and I wanted to write a book that's part memoir and part an explanation of how I progressed and regressed as a player." Green played 13 seasons in the Major Leagues, was twice an All-Star, won a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger. His best season was 1999, when he hit .309 with 42 homers, 45 doubles and 123 RBIs, after which he was dealt to the Dodgers, essentially for Raul Mondesi. Green played five years in Los Angeles before being traded to the D-backs for three Minor Leaguers who never made it and Dioner Navarro. His best Dodgers season was 2001 when he hit a Los Angeles Dodgers record 49 homers with 125 RBIs. He hit 28 home runs in his final Dodgers season of '04. He retired after playing part-time for the Mets in '07. "It was a strange feeling walking away from the game knowing I still had the ability to keep playing," said Green. "I stopped playing largely because I didn't want to keep moving my family around. I had opportunities to keep playing. Had I had the opportunity to live and play here, I would have considered it. I do miss the game more than it thought I would. How can you not miss it when you've played it your entire life?" But he's not complaining. He made $100 million over his career, which allows him to enjoy new roles, like carpooling daughters Presley and Chandler. And writing the book. And speaking, not only to young players, but to students at local schools or business leaders. "I wrote the book and I want to see where that takes me," he said. "I wouldn't mind speaking or teaching, and not only baseball, but life issues. Baseball is pretty easy to use as a metaphor for life that people can relate to." As for the Dodgers' new manager, Green believes Mattingly has a head-start over most first-year skippers. "As good a career as he had as a player, he's going to come in and have the respect of his players," he said. "I don't know him well enough, but I imagine when he makes a move he'll do it with more confidence than a manager that doesn't have his pedigree as a player. He's been through the ups and downs as a player and there aren't many managers that have that kind of credibility without managing a long time."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.