08/21/12 8:15 PM ET
Astros' Greene fondly recalls time with Cards
Shortstop returns to St. Louis 12 days after trade to Houston
By Steve Overbey / Special to MLB.com
Greene, in his first appearance in St. Louis since being traded on Aug. 9, took a wrong turn in an effort to locate the visitors' locker room for the first time.
"I never had to go past the home clubhouse in the hallway there," Greene said. "A little lost at first. I had no idea exactly where it was."
Greene returned to St. Louis with mixed emotions after spending the first seven years of his career in the Cards' organization. St. Louis' first-round pick in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, Greene was sent to Houston for cash considerations and a player to be named 12 days ago.
So far, the move has worked well for Greene, a part-time player with the Cardinals who has moved into the starting lineup in Houston.
Greene is hitting .355 with two homers and four RBIs in nine games with the Astros. He carried a .645 slugging percentage into the first game of a three-game series on Tuesday. Greene, who is relishing the chance to play every day, was hitting .218 at the time of the trade.
"It's been an opportunity to get four or five at-bats every day and get some consistent playing time," Greene said. "It's been a big breath of fresh air for me.
I'm excited about the new start."
The Raleigh, N.C., native played a career-high 58 games for the Cards in 2011. He hit 212 with one homer and 11 RBIs.
Greene got a chance to catch up with some of his former teammates Tuesday. He came to St. Louis on Monday to clean out his apartment and take care of some personal business.
The 29-year-old harbors no ill will toward the Cardinals and says he will always look back with pride on his years with the organization.
"I was able to experience two playoffs here, a World Series and I enjoyed everybody, from the players to the front office," Greene said. "It's a great organization. I have no regrets. Now, it's time to move on and I'm excited about the next step in my career."
Greene immediately caught the eye of Houston fans with a 2-for-5 performance in his first start. He hit a home run in a 6-5 win over Milwaukee. He has started six games at shortstop and one at second base.
Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow, who helped draft Greene during his front-office stint with the Cardinals, is not surprised by Greene's success in his first week.
"Sometimes, just a new beginning is all it takes," Luhnow said.
St. Louis manager Mike Matheny says he wishes Greene all the best.
"He's a talented player, I hope things click for him," he said.
DeFrancesco getting his bearings in new role
ST. LOUIS -- Houston interim manager Tony DeFrancesco is down to the bare minimum.
"I've got one pair of slacks and one collared shirt," he said. "That's it."
It has been a whirlwind 72 hours for DeFrancesco, who was named manager of the Astros early Sunday morning.
The 49-year-old met with management and players before Sunday's 8-1 loss to Arizona in his Major League debut. He had another meeting at Minute Maid Park on Monday before the team flew to St. Louis.
For the first time since his managerial appointment, DeFrancesco got to relax a little Monday night and early Tuesday.
It was at that point that he realized it might be time to go shopping.
"I saw a big Macy's downtown," he said.
DeFrancesco said his head is still buzzing. After 26 years as a player, coach and manager, he has finally reached his goal.
"It is an honor to be named manager at the Major League level and the opportunity is right here for me," he said. "I'm as thankful as I can be."
DeFrancesco, who was managing the Astros' Triple-A squad in Oklahoma City, compiled a 1,235-1,088 mark in 17 seasons.
"We're going to keep playing hard, we're going to keep grinding it out," he said. "We've got almost 40 games to go. Let's see if we can turn this thing around."
In a team meeting before Tuesday's contest, DeFrancesco told his club to embrace the spoiler role that it will play over the last few weeks of the season.
"There are some teams that are trying to get into the playoffs and if we can go out there and take two out of three from them and make it hard on them, that's what we're looking forward to the rest of the year," he said.
Houston has nine games remaining with St. Louis counting Tuesday's contest. The Astros will play the Reds and the Pirates six times each.
"We could be a factor in some of the decision-making down the end," DeFrancesco said.
Luhnow says DeFrancesco carries the appearance of a matinee idol.
"The new guy is awesome, look at him," Luhnow said. "He looks like a movie star."
Bud Norris, who will start for Houston on Wednesday, has had the Cardinals' number. He is 7-3 with a 2.47 ERA in 12 career starts against St. Louis, his top ERA against any opponent. Norris has been struggling lately and has lost his last nine decisions. The Astros are 9-13 in his 22 starts.
Reliever Wilton Lopez has allowed just one run in his last 11 outings with two wins and a save. The right-hander has an 0.82 ERA with 11 strikeouts and one walk in that span.
Steve Overbey is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.