Ordonez bolts as Padres make Greene starting SS
PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) — Rey Ordonez has left the San Diego Padres, handing the starting shortstop job to Khalil Greene.
General manager Kevin Towers spoke to Ordonez's agent, Adam Katz, on Friday and said the 33-year-old Cuban player is not expected to return to the club because of issues related entirely to baseball. The Padres had granted Ordonez a temporary leave of absence Tuesday to fly to Florida to deal with family issues.
"What I more or less got from his agent is (that) this is the first time in his career that he had to battle for a job, and I think he looked at his competition and he thought (Greene) was playing very well," Towers said.
"He thought that his chances probably weren't real good, and he was probably right. He had a good spring for us, but I think he realized that Greene was our future shortstop and likely to make the team as a starter. Rather than continue to fight it out with him, he decided to take off."
Both Ordonez and Katz were unavailable for comment Friday.
Ordonez, a three-time Gold Glove winner with the New York Mets from 1997-99, signed a minor-league contract with the Padres on Jan. 16. He spent last season with Tampa Bay.
The team invited him to spring training to provide an experienced fallback in case Greene, the 13th overall pick in the 2002 draft, proved unprepared for everyday duty after getting his first taste of the big leagues last September.
But Greene, 24, has exceeded the Padres' high expectations this spring by playing flawless defense and batting .345 after going 2-for-3 with two doubles and two RBI Friday night in a 3-0 victory over Milwaukee.
Never a strong hitter, Ordonez wasn't far off with a .304 spring average, and the Padres fully expected the duel for the starting job to go down to the wire — until Friday.
"I was surprised that he decided not to come back," Padres manager Bruce Bochy said of Ordonez. "It was a tight race and it was going to go deep into spring before we made that decision. He was playing very well. But it sounds like he didn't think his chances were real good."
The Padres will determine in the next couple of days what to do with Ordonez. Towers said he made trade inquiries Friday afternoon with a few clubs who are on the hunt for middle infielders. If no deal can be reached, Ordonez will be released or placed on the restricted list.
GREAT news for us Khalil Greene owners !!!