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Green May Decide to Miss Two Games

September 23, 2004|Jason Reid | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO — On second thought, Shawn Green needed more time.

Green had planned to announce Wednesday he would sit out the second game of the Dodgers' National League West showdown against the San Francisco Giants at SBC Park because of his religious beliefs, but instead he postponed revealing his decision.

"I've been struggling hard with it and I need another day," the first baseman said. "The team is obviously really important to me and my religion is really important to me. It's just a tough, tough deal."

Green, who is Jewish, informed Dodger officials and teammates Tuesday he had decided not to play Saturday in observance of Yom Kippur -- the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. Although the games Friday and Saturday fall within the holiday, which starts at sundown Friday and ends at sundown Saturday, Green figured he would be letting down his teammates if he skipped both games against the Giants with the division race tight.

However, Green said he would either stick with his compromise solution of playing in only one game or sit out both.

"I talked to Greenie and it's tough on him," third baseman Adrian Beltre said. "He wants to help the team, but it's something personal.

"The is the first time he could miss two games [because of the holiday]. He said he was going to play one game, but ... it's just tough for him to make a decision. It's really hard for Greenie."

Green sat out a game in September 2001 while the Dodgers were battling for a playoff spot. He did not have to make a decision last year because the holiday occurred during the playoffs.

Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax is the only Dodger to sit out a postseason game because of his religious beliefs. Koufax skipped a start in the 1965 World Series against the Minnesota Twins because of the holiday.

Koufax said Wednesday he had not counseled Green, a close friend.

"That kind of call is totally up to Shawn," Koufax said. "There's no way anyone can advise you on something like this.

"It's totally up to the individual. It's not the type of thing I would bring up to Shawn because I know how personal it is."

Koufax said the decision might be more difficult for a position player.

"It's a lot easier for a pitcher," he said. "As a pitcher, I always had the choice of moving up in the rotation if the holiday was on the day I pitched. The only time I didn't have a choice was in the World Series because there was no game the day before."

Green began having doubts about his decision Tuesday after a 9-4 loss to the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. He backed off his initial plan after discussing the situation with his wife, Lindsay, and others outside the organization.

"I talked with some people in the organization and told them I was leaning toward playing in one and not the other," Green said. "I bounced back and forth. I'm trying to do the right thing and it's hard to know what that is.

"I'm committed to getting to the postseason and winning. At the same time, I'm committed to my religion and what I've stood for in the past. I wish there was an easy solution, but there's not.

"There are different ways I could go about it and still show commitment to my religion and to the holiday. I have to figure out what I feel is the right thing to do."

Green's teammates said they would support his decision.

"If he wants to play one game, that's going to be better for us because Greenie is a huge part of the lineup," Beltre said. "We appreciate the fact that he was even thinking about playing in at least one game, but we're always going to support him no matter what."

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