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Indians’ Greene balances art hobby with learning new position

Spokane’s Marcus Greene, playing his first season at catcher, discovered his talents as an illustrator during his senior year of high school. (Colin Mulvany)
Spokane’s Marcus Greene, playing his first season at catcher, discovered his talents as an illustrator during his senior year of high school. (Colin Mulvany)

Marcus Greene said his high school art teacher examined his work and offered her expert opinion.

Marcus, she told him, I wish you had taken art for more than one year.

Greene waited to take an art class until his senior year at Vista del Lago High in Moreno Valley, Calif. He didn’t consider himself a true artist, but he needed the credits in case he wanted to attend a Division I college.

Greene’s instructor thought differently about his abilities and challenged him to branch out. Friends told Greene that a collage he painted of six views in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is still on the school’s walls.

“I never knew that I really had the talent that I did in drawing until I started doing it a lot and saw some skills there,” Greene said. … “When I actually got to the class and started getting a feel for it and doing different things, it’s like it came alive.”

Greene’s grandmother, Wyanzo, encouraged him to paint and draw as a child and still checks up on his progress.

Greene, who describes his style as “realism,” has worked on 3D images and self-portraits.

Greene’s artistry is on display this summer in Spokane, although on a different canvas. The first-year professional is playing catcher, outfielder and designated hitter for the Spokane Indians.

Playing in about two-thirds of the Indians’ games, mostly at catcher, Greene is hitting .267 a quarter of the way through the Northwest League season after Wednesday’s win at Tri-City.

The Miami Marlins drafted the 5-foot-10, 200-pound Greene out of high school in the 39th round last summer. Greene opted not to sign and played one season at New Mexico Junior College in Hobbs.

The seasoning helped, as Greene hit .384 with 10 home runs and 49 runs batted in for the Thunderbirds. The statistics caught the attention of the Texas Rangers, who selected Greene in the 16th round last month, signed him and sent him to Spokane.

“I thought it was an opportunity for me to sign and come play this year,” Greene said. “I’m only 18, so there’s still a lot of learning, but I’m adapting pretty well to it.”

Greene has played many positions, including shortstop in high school, but his coaches convinced him that a baseball world overflowing with outfielders is always in need of athletic catchers.

“I just want to be myself and set a trend for myself,” Greene said. “I don’t want to follow in someone else’s footsteps.”

Games, practices and travels leave little time for artwork, but Greene plans to “bust something out” when the opportunity arises.

Greene said he expects his parents to attend a couple of games in Spokane. Greene and his father share the name Marcus Aurelius Greene, as Wyanzo named all seven of her sons after Roman emperors.

Greene has two brothers, Michael, 20, and Everette, 16, a left-handed pitcher who can throw in the mid-80s. Greene said he’s never caught his little brother but hopes to get a chance during the winter.

“My parents are pretty proud of me for the way that … I’m actually following through with a dream I’ve had since I was a little kid,” Greene said.

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Baseball players in minors to lose minimum wage protection

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