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Tyler Greene, John Mabry speak out about 2012

Posted Thursday, January 19, 2012, at 9:58 AM

By COREY NOLES

Before I get to the meat and potatoes of today's column, interviews with Tyler Greene and John Mabry, I have a few bits of news to share.

* The Cardinals visited the White House on Tuesday to be honored by the President and First Lady for their accomplishments in 2011. President Obama referred to the season's comeback as "the best in baseball history."

* Relief pitcher Kyle McClellan signed a $2.5 million one-year deal on the plane to Washington, D.C. effectively avoiding arbitration.

* The Cardinals and "closer" Jason Motte are in negotiations for a multi-year deal, but it's unclear how close the sides are. According to mlbtraderumors.com, Motte filed for $2.4 million in arbitration, with the Cardinals countering at $1.5 million. More on this one to come in the near(ish) future.

* Joe Magrane's daughter, Shannon, made an appearance on the American Idol premiere Wednesday evening advancing to the second-round. Magrane also stepped out to meet the judges on the show.

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John Mabry, who spent three stints with the Cardinals as a player, recently signed on once again but in a different capacity. As Assistant Hitting Coach, Mabry will be working closely with Hitting Coach Mark McGwire to help, especially the youngsters, harness their talent and turn it into productivity at the plate.

While at the Cardinals Caravan in Cape Girardeau Monday evening, I had the opportunity to visit with Mabry about his new position. His position, however, is one most people don't know a lot about.

Mabry said he's been in close contact with McGwire during the offseason.

"I'm just basically going to be the hands and eyes for Mac [McGwire]," he said. "I'll help out with getting scouting reports, game changes and working with hitters. I'm just looking forward to getting back out there."

Given the many changes the championship team has seen since winning the World Series, Mabry's job, as well as McGwire's, could be interesting this season.

"We have a lot of talent to work with," he said. "The core nucleus that won the World Championship is still in tact. We lost Albert [Pujols] obviously, but [Carlos] Beltran will be a big help in replacing part of that loss."

While he acknowledged losing the team's offensive cornerstone is a big hit, he's still very optimistic about the season to come.

"Every time something like that happens it brings with it an opportunity," Mabry said. "Hopefully this opportunity will help us carry on with the winning tradition of the Cardinals in the past.

While he has technically been with the Cardinals since his retirement doing school programs and clinics for children with cancer, the opportunity to get back on the filed has him excited.

"I feel blessed to be a part of it," he said. "Just being around the ballpark and trying to stay in touch and be involved is great, but now its an increased role and I'm looking forward to it."

Mabry added that he has a lot of faith in the new coaching staff that has been put in place. While he nor manager Mike Matheny have coaching experience, their involvement with the team through over the years has given them a jump-start.

"We already know these guys," he said. "We already know the players and they know us. We all have a tremendous amount of respect for Matheny and believe in his ability to lead this team."

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Tyler Greene is a name most Cardinals fans will recognize. As a young man trying to work his way out of the team's farm system, his three stints at the major league level involved struggles at the plate. Three times he came to St. Louis and struggled. Three times he returned to AAA Memphis and raised his batting average by 50 points.

Despite his difficulties, the Cardinals front office and scouts believe in Tyler Greene. At this past weekend's Winter Warm-up in St. Louis, Mozeliak noted that it's entirely possible Greene, a career shortstop, could start 100 games in St. Louis at second base this season.

That vote of confidence has really had an effect on the young player.

"It's great to hear that the management has confidence in me," he said. "For me, just coming to spring training and being ready to play wherever they want me has to be my mindset."

The potential move to second base doesn't come as a surprise to Greene who has spent the offseason preparing and taking reps up the middle.

"I've played games at second and this offseason they really focused me on it," he said. "It's a little bit of a transition from shortstop, but you're still on the infield and in the game."

Despite his defensive ability, Greene recognizes his struggles at the plate during his times at St. Louis.

"When I went back down [to Memphis] last year I was able to really figure out some things and when I came back up in September I felt like I was in my best position yet," he said. "Fortunately for the team, we stayed on the run, but it meant I wasn't able to get much playing time to show I'd made those adjustments."

But his time is coming.

"Spring training is my opportunity to show that I've made those adjustments and I'm ready to play," he said.

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Just a quick reminder, any questions for the Balls & Strikes Mailbag which will run Sunday, need to be in my possession by midnight Thursday. The can be submitted by calling (573) 624-4545, e-mail or by filling out the form at dailystatesman.com/blogs/coreynoles/



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Corey Noles, staff writer for The Daily Statesman and Editor of The North Stoddard Countian, is the author of a regular baseball/St. Louis Cardinals column and also uses his blog to sound off on various happenings in sports. He also operates a weekly baseball mailbag column.

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