Minneapolis — He isn’t looking back at the scoreboard after every pitch anymore, checking on his velocity. He doesn’t have to. He can tell by how the hitters are reacting that he’s got his pop back.
If you haven’t looked in lately, "Mean" Shane Greene is back closing games for the Tigers. Mean as in nasty.
“I am feeling really good right now,” he said Saturday night after he got the final four outs to close out the Tigers’ 7-5 win.
It was his seventh straight save, his 26th on the season. He hasn’t had a loss since June 26 and hasn’t blown a save since May 20. He’s given up five runs over his last 14 games, with opponents hitting .212. He’s been, in short, nearly back to his old self.
That after a pretty rough patch in June where he gave up six runs and eight hits in 7.2 innings and wound up on the disabled list with a shoulder strain.
“Going into the DL stint, there was a pretty good period of time where I was in my own head about the whole aneurysm thing,” said Greene, who continues to lose feeling in his fingers from the shoulder aneurysm he dealt with for two years. “The shoulder didn’t feel great, but I am pretty stubborn, so I kept that stuff to myself.
“But every time I was out there I was looking at the scoreboard to see how hard I was throwing because my shoulder didn’t feel great. I thought I had an aneurysm again.”
Finally he told the coaching staff what was going on and he was put on the DL on July 2. After seeing a specialist, he was told there was no aneurysm, just fatigue and tendinitis.
“Once I was cleared, I could clear my head and just work on getting guys out,” he said. “Since then, mentally I’ve been the same guy I was last year.”
“His velo is back up,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He can pump that fastball in there when he needs to. He’s throwing it a lot better. But it’s confidence. Greeney is feeling good and his arm is fresher than most guys because he missed some time there.
“The ball is coming out of his hand really good.”
His four-seam fastball has been ringing consistently at 95-96 mph and his two-seam sinker at 94-95. That’s 2-3 mph more zip than he had on those pitches in June.
“I don’t throw my four-seam too often, but anytime I do throw it, that’s the only time the hitters swing and miss at my fastball,” Greene said. “Every time I throw my two-seam, they won’t swing and miss at it.”
But they often don’t get the barrel on it, either. He’s been pitching off his two-seamer a lot, using it to set up his slider, which has been biting sharper since the All-Star break. Opponents are hitting .152 against the slider, with a 38.3 percent whiff rate.
“Going into the All-Star break, I went home and just kind of evaluated my first half,” Greene said. “I compared it to last year because last year was the best year of my career. So I just kind of evaluated everything, made some mental notes on what I wanted to do more and what I wanted to do less.
“So, here I am, still learning every day.”