Shane Greene made his debut with the Yankees, pitching out of the bullpen at Fenway Park on April 24, 2014. He returned in July and made 14 starts. His best start came on August 7, when he pitched eight shutout innings and out dueled Rick Porcello in a 1-0 win over the Tigers. Maybe that was in Detroit’s mind when they acquired Greene that December in a three-way trade that put Didi Gregorius on the Yankees.
During the 2015 season, Detroit moved him to the bullpen. Now that Justin Wilson was traded to the Cubs, Greene is the Tigers closer.
Greene, a workhorse who is second in the AL with 50 appearances, took a few minutes to talk to NY Sports Day before Tuesday’s game.
NYSD: What is it like for you when you come back to Yankee Stadium to pitch?
Shane Greene: It’s awesome. I have a lot of really cool memories here, obviously. Coming up with that organization and my first big league experience being in pinstripes, it’s something I’ll never forget.
NYSD: Do you have a favorite memory?
SG: Yeah. My favorite memory would probably be my second start, was in Baltimore and I got a standing ovation when I came off the mound, and I got goosebumps when I was walking off the mound and my two best friends were sitting like first row, right above the dugout. So that picture and that feeling is probably my most memorable moment.
NYSD: One of your best games as a Yankee you beat Detroit 1-0, pitched eight innings. What was it like coming here and seeing Cabrera and Verlander and Kinsler and those guys up close?
SG: It’s awesome. I mean, now I have relationships with all those guys. I know my first time walking into this clubhouse, it was pretty surreal. I mean, I got to live that moment with Jeter when he had his last walk-off here at Yankee Stadium, so I don’t know if anything will ever match that as far as superstars and being star struck but these guys have great track records and they’re both one of the greatest to ever live, to do it, what they do. I think they’re both still kind of in their prime. I mean, Verlander is still one of the best in the game, and a lot of people think Miggy’s struggling this year but if you look at his numbers, he’s hitting like .270, which is still really good. It’s pretty unbelievable to watch.
NYSD: Why do you think you were able to make the move to the bullpen so well?
SG: It’s just competing. When you’re a starter it’s a little bit more of a chess match. You’re trying to manage the game to give your team a chance to win. As a reliever it’s kind of balls to the wall in a sense. Every guy that gets in the box, for the most part, the game is on the line. So that out is the most important out at that moment, so it’s just a little bit more of an adrenaline rush. The competitive nature is a little bit higher because it’s later in the game and the game’s on the line.
NYSD: Do you think it’s helped you playing for Girardi and Ausmus, former catchers, has that helped you as a pitcher?
SG: Yeah. I didn’t spend a whole lot of time talking to Joe when I was over there but I was young and I was a little intimidated just being up for the first time. But me and Brad have a good relationship. I’ve known him for almost three years now, so we have a good relationship and he’s a really smart guy. And he’s not scared to get behind the plate in catching a bullpen if you ask him to, so it’s been a lot of fun.
NYSD: Did you grow the beard as soon as you left the Yankees?
SG: Yeah. I think most people do.