Padres Manager Andy Green is one of the most progressive-thinking skippers in Major League Baseball. There are very few ideas or quirks or tweaks that he will not at least entertain a conversation on because he wants to find ways to win baseball games.
Green’s mind is always churning on something and he is more than happy to share it with pretty much anyone who takes the time to ask.
“Yeah he’s got a ton of good advice,” said outfielder Travis Jankowski. “He’s got a ton of books to read. Just talking to him; that guy is as mentally tough as they come.”
The books mention is interesting because it brings to mind former NBA coach Phil Jackson who famously gave his players books to read. But unlike Jackson, who chose the tomes that fueled the titles, Green finds out what the players are interested in and makes suggestions from there.
“I kind of try to meet a guy where he is and what I think he can digest,” said Green. “There’s a wide range of things I think are impactful to guys, different authors for different guys.”
Green is so encouraged to see his players asking about books that they don’t have to buy a single one of them.
“He says they’re on him,” said Jankowski. “He doesn’t have a whole stash of them but he says whatever you guys want, if it’s going to strengthen your mind and get you right for the season he’ll buy it for us.”
“I tell them I’ll buy them any book they want at any time,” said Green. “It’s not class in there but it’s, let’s activate the minds and figure out how to handle adversity and what’s expected of a professional baseball player.”
You’ll hear Green talk a lot about activating the mind. While many people today bemoan the slow pace of play in baseball (and rightfully so, they need to speed it up) they often misinterpret that as a lack of excitement. Before any pitch there are countless calculations that must be made by every player on the field.
What pitch is coming? What’s the count? Who’s on base? How many outs are there? What inning are we in? Where does the manager have me positioned? Where are my teammates positioned? Who’s pitching? Who’s hitting? What’s the scouting report on the opponent?
That’s not even all of it and it changes pitch-to-pitch throughout the course of a game. Green believes an engaged mind, especially in the times between the ball being put in play, is absolutely critical to avoiding mental errors.
“If they’re learning, if their minds are active, they’re going to learn on the baseball field. If their minds are shut off and it’s Twitter and video games all day their minds are going to be shut off on the baseball field. It’s really simple. It’s the same way with my kids. If they watch TV all day they’re not going to make smart decisions. With these guys out here, if you turn their minds on you open them up to new ideas and new theories, new ways to handle adversity, new ways to respond to difficult circumstances, they do better on the baseball field.”
There is no go-to author or subject matter. Heck there’s not even a favorite genre. Green can dip in to pretty much any kind of writing to find something that fits what his players are looking for.
“I recommend a few fiction things. Guys who want to communicate better, I’ve got a couple of books up that lane, too, for guys that want to be more impactful leaders.”
And in case you’re curious, yes … when it comes to keeping the mind engaged through reading Green practices what he preaches.
“I’m always reading. Actually Spring Training is the one time I’m not reading because the days are so extraordinarily wrong but outside of spring I’ll read all year long.”
He’s not just talking about scouting reports, either.