Notes: Greene gets back into flow

Notes: Greene gets back into flow

PHOENIX -- Four very busy innings at shortstop and one at-bat on Saturday gave Khail Greene a feel for the rhythm and flow of the game again after he'd been limited to occasional pinch-running duties since leaving the lineup on Aug. 17 with a ligament tear in his left middle finger.

When the Padres set their postseason roster, Greene is expected not only to be on it, but potentially a more involved performer than he imagined a few short weeks ago. The Padres could go with a formula they used in the playoff clincher, bringing Greene into the game in the middle innings with a lead and moving Geoff Blum from shortstop to third.

"Whether or not I'm going to get a start, to do something to aid the team is the main benefit of it all," Greene said, having made a pair of crucial plays behind Trevor Hoffman in the ninth to preserve a 3-1 victory that guaranteed the Padres at least a Wild Card spot in the playoffs. "I think I'm capable of adding something, either way. I'll do what's asked."

With a win on Sunday against the Diamondbacks, the Friars would emerge as National League West champions and host the Cardinals in the NLDS starting Tuesday afternoon. A Padres loss and Dodgers win in San Francisco would send manager Bruce Bochy's troupe to New York, where the Mets open the NLDS on Wednesday.

In addition to handling six chances flawlessly in the field, Greene walked in his at-bat against Jorge Julio in the eighth inning, fouling one pitch back. It served the purpose of giving him a sense that his hand can handle contact against a hard thrower -- Julio throws in the mid-90s -- and he's able to judge speed and movement.

"Watching him take ground balls, he looks great," Bochy said. "Watching him come up to hit is where I was concerned, and he looked good up there."

The extra dimension Greene provides defensively is especially important in the late innings with ground-ball pitchers such as Cla Meredith and Hoffman, who work down in the zone. Scott Linebrink throws a lot of hard stuff, but his split-fingered fastball produces a lot of ground balls.

"Khalil is a Gold Glove [-caliber] shortstop, and Blummer has come in and done a great job," Hoffman said. "Our defense has been outstanding all year."

Greene admitted there were moments during his rehab that he wasn't sure he'd get back to this point.

"There were times I was almost resigned to not being able to do much of anything," he said. "I came to terms with that, as well. I was capable of handling it either way. But it is nice to get back out there and get a feel for playing the game again. That was the important thing.

"Now I feel I'll be able to hold up, playing defense at a fairly high level and be at least comfortable with my at-bats. I can't speak for what my role will be, but I'll be happy doing whatever it is. If they stick with the lineup that's gotten us to this point the last 30 games, I haven't been in there, I'd totally understand it."

No decisions on roster, rotation: The Padres will carry 11 pitchers in the NLDS.

That means five bench players will be at Bochy's disposal -- presumably, catchers Josh Bard and Rob Bowen and three others, most likely Ryan Klesko, Greene and Todd Walker or Russell Branyan (the one who doesn't start at third base).

As for the rotation, Chris Young and Jake Peavy will be fully rested and are expected to work the first two games, although not necessarily in that order. With his brilliant performance on Saturday -- allowing not a single D-Back to reach scoring position -- David Wells probably solidified a Game 3 start. Woody Williams is the likely candidate to pitch Game 4, given his edge in experience over Clay Hensley, who has been as consistent as any San Diego starter over the past two months.

In praise of Castilla, Eric Young: During Saturday's clubhouse celebration, general manager Kevin Towers made a point of mentioning the contributions of Vinny Castilla and Eric Young, veterans who were released after serving important roles as leaders and strong clubhouse influences on younger Padres.

"I just wish Vinny and E.Y. could be here to share in this," Towers said. "Certainly, they contributed to victories early in the season. As tough as it was watching them leave, I think the guys welcomed Walker and Branyan to the club.

"That's what I love about this team, the way they carried themselves all year long. They never get too high or too low. It's a very professional group of players, a pleasure to be around."

Towers along with club president Sandy Alderson made wholesale changes -- reshaping 60 percent of the roster -- during the offseason, and a high percentage of those moves paid off handsomely.

"The GM always gets credit when things go well -- or blame when they go bad," Towers said. "But there are a lot of people behind the scenes who are very helpful. And, of course, Bruce did a tremendous job getting these guys to come together quickly."

Coming up: The Padres will open the playoffs either Tuesday at PETCO Park against St. Louis as NL West champions, or on Wednesday in New York against the Mets as the NL Wild Card, depending on Sunday's outcomes.

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