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MWL notes: Green grows from struggle

Dayton hurler deals with tough signing decision, suspension
July 12, 2012
If the hottest fires truly produce the toughest steel, then Dayton hurler Cole Green has already developed precious mettle.

Green, a six-foot, 220-pound right-hander, is working on transitioning from starter to reliever in the pro ranks. After dealing with a gut-wrenching signing decision and a 50-game suspension, the former Texas Longhorns star is making sure that adversity becomes an ally in his quest for a career in Major League Baseball.

"Toughness is something that is developed through failure," Green said. "I've failed on the biggest stage in college. You're going to fail in this game, sooner or later. There are always lessons to be learned. There are always going to be opportunities for us to win a game, get a guy out in a crucial situation, come in with runners on and get out of a jam. People rise to the occasion. People enjoy playing in those situations. It's something I embrace."

Green is 1-0 for the Dragons with a 7.78 ERA. He has only given up runs in three of the 13 games in which he has pitched.

Green's pro career ran into a roadblock on Sept. 14, 2011. He tested positive for Methylhexaneamine and was slugged with a 50-game suspension.

"It was horrible to sit out 50 games," Green said. "I hated it, and I hated the fact that it happened at the very end of last season, and I had to wait all offseason. I had to explain to people that I took a supplement from GNC. It wasn't necessarily steroids that I was taking. It wasn't beneficial to my pitching. You can be bitter about it, but more than anything, it was a learning lesson. In college, things were legal that aren't legal in pro baseball. The rules are different. I'm kind of a victim of that.

"The suspension was a negative, but I was able to get work in. I threw in Arizona. I tried to look at it as time for me to work at relieving. I struggled at it. It wasn't a smooth path. I ran into some adversity. It was difficult at first, but I was able to catch a good rhythm right there at the end, and that carried over to Dayton. I was fortunate to go to Spring Training and extended spring training, which the Reds invited me to do. They could have made me sit at home for the 50 games that I sat out."

Green's pro career was filled with anxiety before it started. He was drafted in the fourth round by Detroit in 2010. He turned down an offer of $350,000 to return to Texas and try to help the Longhorns win a national title. Texas came up short in Omaha, and Green came up short in the 2011 Draft, taken in the ninth round by the Reds, and signing for $90,000.

"It was a very tough decision to go back to school," Green said. "There was a lot of pressure. It put more pressure on that next year in college for me, because I turned down such an awesome opportunity to get into a great organization. I don't look at it as a right-or-wrong decision. I looked at the people closest to me, my family, my coaches, my friends, and asked them for advice. I ended up going back. I graduated, and I got to go to Omaha [for the College World Series] one more time. The experience and the degree are worth a value that you can't put money on.

"Your dream is to make it to the big leagues. You're not going to make a living on $350,000 or $90,000, but you can make a living off your education. It will open a lot of doors for me."

In switching to a reliever from a starter, Green has impressed coaches in the Reds organization.

"He's throwing the ball well," Dayton pitching coach Tom Browning said. "The thing I like about him -- he's very stubborn, very bull-headed. He pitched a couple of games where he really didn't have a breaking ball, but he kept throwing it, hoping to get it back. Batters don't get really good swings on him. He's been a nice, steady guy for us."

In brief

Rainy-day feeling: Cedar Rapids' Eric Stamets stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs and the bases loaded Monday, and the Kernels trailing Peoria, 3-1. Thirty-two minutes later, Stamets' at-bat ended and the Kernels had a 4-3 victory. Umpires called a rain delay during Stamets' at-bat when a sudden rain hit. When the game resumed, Stamets swung at Liria's first pitch, blasting a three-run double to left-center field.

Another wild one: Cedar Rapids was also involved in another wild game last Friday. The Kernels gave up eight runs in the top of the eighth inning that featured a pair of bases-loaded triples as their 10-3 lead disappeared. But Cedar Rapids rallied on a two-out, two-run homer by Zach Borenstein in the ninth. Borenstein's blast was his second homer of the game and his fourth hit of the contest. He ended up with six RBIs.

Don't unpack: Quad Cities infielder Anthony Melchionda was promoted twice in three days by the St. Louis Cardinals. Melchionda started the week at short-season Batavia. On Thursday, he was sent from Batavia to Quad Cities. On Saturday, he was sent to Double-A Springfield. Melchionda moved to Springfield when Kolten Wong and Oscar Taveras went to Kansas City for the Futures Game.

Curt Rallo is a contributor to