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Green Still Hasn't Signed With Blue Jays : Baseball: Former Tustin High outfielder plans to honor his commitment to Stanford, unless Toronto increases its offer.

August 14, 1991|CHRIS FOSTER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Shawn Green has kept busy since graduating from Tustin High School in June.

There has been work, a summer job pushing papers for a construction company. There has been play, visits to the beach as often as possible. There has even been the unexpected, a broken thumb during a Connie Mack baseball game.

What there hasn't been is a start of Green's professional baseball career. Two months after the amateur free-agent draft, he remains an amateur.

Green was a first-round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays and the 16th player taken overall, yet he remains unsigned. Only six of the 26 first-round selections have not come to terms.

The big hang-up between Green and the Blue Jays is, surprise, money.

"Right now, that's the main factor," said Green, an outfielder. "I wasn't going to sign right away anyway. It's too tough a decision."

One that's made tougher by the fact that he has a good option.

If Green doesn't sign with Toronto, he will attend Stanford on a baseball scholarship. He signed a letter of intent in November.

By going to a four-year college, Green would not be eligible for the baseball draft until after his junior year.

Green, who had a 4.6 grade-point average at Tustin, also considered USC, Arizona, Arizona State and Miami.

"I liked Stanford for the academics as well as the athletics," Green said. "I'm strongly in favor of going to college."

But not so committed that he wouldn't change his mind, provided the Blue Jays made the right offer.

Ira Green, Shawn's father, has made that clear to the organization. In fact, he set the minimum price.

The Blue Jays have made only one offer, which was reported to be a package worth approximately $400,000. Ira Green refused to comment on the amount of the offer, but he did say it wasn't enough money.

"They made an offer which we didn't find acceptable," he said. "They told us to get back to them if we wanted to talk. Well, there's nothing to talk about."

Which, for now, is also the Blue Jays' stance.

"The decision is up to the young man," said Howard Starkman, the team's director of public relations. "Obviously, there's two sides to the coin. But by signing, you get a head start on a pro career. There's no guarantee that a youngster will be a first-round pick after college."

The other five first-round draftees who have not signed--Brien Taylor (New York Yankees), Kenny Henderson (Milwaukee), John Burke (Houston), Joe Vitiello (Kansas City) and Joey Hamilton (San Diego)--were among the first eight players selected.

"It's very unusual when a first-round pick doesn't sign," said Jeffrey Moorehead, a Newport Beach attorney who represents several athletes. "Teams are usually very careful who they draft in the first round. They know the chances of signing a player well before they draft him."

Green works for a construction company in Tustin between trips to the beach. He also played for the Orange County Cardinals, a Connie Mack team. In July, he suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch.

The cast was removed Monday and Green began rehabilitation Tuesday. He expects to be swinging a bat in four weeks, but doesn't know for whom.

"Right now, I'm going to Stanford," Green said. "But things could change. It could become a difficult decision."

Green was the sixth high school player selected in the draft. He was named The Times Orange County player of the year last season after batting .479.

He also set a county career record for hits with 147. During his four years at Tustin, the Tillers won 82 games and advanced to the 1990 Southern Section 3-A championship game.

His abilities at the plate were coveted by several professional teams, according to Ira Green. However, most may have been scared off by Green's tough negotiating stand.

"Just prior to the draft, we let everyone know that if they drafted Shawn it was going to take something extraordinary to sign him," Ira Green said. "The Blue Jays knew this and, frankly, I'm surprised that they haven't come up with a serious offer."

Baseball Draft: 20 Signed, Six to Go

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