LOS ANGELES — Andy Green’s probably a pretty good poker player.
You could never interpret the National League West standings from the look on his face.
The first former Lancaster JetHawk to manage in the major leagues is turning out to be a fair skipper, too.
“We had no delusions about the rebuilding job here when we took the job,” the San Diego Padres manager was saying before bringing the new-look Friars into Dodger Stadium Tuesday for a brief two-game skirmish. “So the approach has never changed.
“It’s the personnel, and the results, that are changing.”
Green was a combined 76 games under .500 in his first three seasons in charge in America’s Finest City.
But each year, talent we saw up close at The Hangar with the Lake Elsinore Storm began percolating to the surface.
Add in the $300 million man, Manny Machado, and the Padres are in the chase for the first time in nine years.
“I never lost faith in the process,” Green said. “I always knew that, with the right people in the right places, this franchise would win.”
There’s an absolute buzz all over San Diego, from the Gaslamp District to Otai Mesa to the harbor to Mission Valley.
The Dodgers are 29-12 in their last 41 matchups with Father Serra’s boys.
But two weekends back the Friars went toe-to-toe with the Dodgers at Petco Park with the parting shot of Hunter Renfroe’s pinch-hit walkoff grand slam to end the series.
Padres fans haven’t felt this kind of excitement since the 1998 march to the World Series that saved the franchise in San Diego.
It couldn’t work out better for a better person than Andy Green.
Your prototypical middle infielder/future manager batted .309 in 102 games with the 2002 JetHawks as an Arizona Diamondbacks farmhand.
He got to the big leagues with the D-Backs. He was a coach in Phoenix when he got the job in San Diego.
“I enjoyed my time in Lancaster,” reminisced the Padres skipper. “Who wouldn’t enjoy hitting in that ballpark? But what I remember most about that time were the people. Very friendly, very supportive.
“I still have some good friends in Lancaster.”
The last manager to lead San Diego to the postseason could make sort of the same claim.
Before he punched his ticket to Cooperstown with three World Series victories in San Francisco, Bruce Bochy managed the 1991 High Desert Mavericks.
In a storybook season — they were still mounting the scoreboard during batting practice on opening night — Bochy led the Mavs to the California League pennant.
“That’s still the season in the minors I cherish the most,” said Bochy, who also won pennants in the Midwest League and the Texas League. “That was the most fun season I’ve ever had as a manager.”
Bochy was so upset at the news that the High Desert was being nuked by Minor League Baseball in 2016, the Poway resident wanted to come up to Adelanto and lead a Save The Mavericks rally.
No matter what uniforms they wear, Bruce Bochy and Andy Green will always be family to us in Lancaster.
The 19 meetings of the Dodgers and Padres this season won’t change that.
They’ll only make those family ties stronger.