Green keeps Shockers afloat in outfield

03/31/2014 5:44 PM

03/31/2014 5:46 PM

Wichita State outfielder Micah Green has found perhaps his most important skill — dependability — at exactly the right time.

Green, a senior, hasn’t completely escaped the health issues that have plagued his teammates, especially the other outfielders. But Green hasn’t missed a game, and that consistency is just as important to the Shockers as his production.

Green and first baseman Casey Gillaspie are the only two WSU players to have started every game — outfielder/designated hitter Tanner Dearman has missed one.

Durability has always been one of Green’s strong suits, as he’s on track to play in at least 50 games for the third time in four seasons. This year, though, that has taken on added importance.

“It feels great,” Green said. “It feels great for coach (Todd Butler) to be able to rely on me and have faith in me, and to put me out there still, even though I have a bum knee. It feels good to still be out there competing.”

Green banged up his knee in practice last week and was still feeling the effects as WSU wrapped up a weekend series with Cal State Fullerton on Sunday, when Green delivered two hits in a Shockers win.

As outfielders Daniel Kihle and Mikel Mucha deal with more serious injuries, however, Green isn’t about to ask for time off — or to accept it if it was offered to him. His presence has become too crucial to WSU’s lineup and to its defensive structure.

Another outfielder, Garrett Bayliff, left Friday’s game with an apparent hamstring injury and didn’t play the rest of the weekend, so the veteran Green is controlling an outfield that is two-thirds full of inexperience.

Tanner Dearman, primarily a second baseman, and Joe Haddox, who had 16 starts as a freshman in 2013, flanked Green in the outfield on Sunday, but his weekend defense suffered little in the face of unfamiliarity around him and his injury.

“Micah Green played this weekend with a sore knee,” Butler said. “He couldn’t run, he was 70 percent. Made two diving catches — maybe we need to keep him at 70 percent.”

With Mucha out at least another month with a leg fracture and Kihle on the shelf for two more weeks or more, Green is helping make up for offense lost from two players batting .357 or better.

Green’s .297 average is tied for second best among Shockers who have played at least 18 games, and as WSU has gotten players back from suspension throughout the early portion of the schedule, Green has proven he can hit anywhere in the lineup. He appears to have settled into the No. 7 slot for now.

“We’ve got so many injuries going on in the outfield,” Green said. “We’re trying to convert guys from infield to outfield because we’re so light in the outfield. It’s nice to be able to play, at least, rather than have to sit.”

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