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‘One thing I’ve always wanted’: The stories behind two emotional Giants debuts

It was a party for Conner Menez. He left 60 tickets for family and friends, a kid from Hollister making Oracle Park his playground, with so many chapters of his life among the 35,406. So many who watched him at the Master’s College knowing they were seeing something special. Something that could baffle Mets bats for five innings, with two mistake pitches going for solo home runs, but shutting them down after that.

Debuts are not created equal. It was an emotional gathering for Zach Green, whose parents, sisters and girlfriend watched a moment he didn’t think would come.

Menez made his way through the Giants’ system quickly, a 2016 pick debuting right on schedule.

Green stalled in Philadelphia’s system, a 2012 pick who couldn’t stay on the field. Tommy John surgery. Injuries to his wrist and hip.

“At one point, I didn’t think it would happen,” he said slowly after the rookies played their first games — and contributed in their first games — in a 3-2 Giants victory over the Mets at Oracle Park on Sunday. “But I told myself that’s the one thing I’ve always wanted.

“If I can get healthy, I’m going to go for it. Every day I’m gonna give it my best. Two years later, I am.”

It took 562 minor league games for Green to get his first in the majors. He wasn’t going to wait any longer for his first hit, slapping the second pitch he saw for a single.

“Happened like that,” Green said. “Next thing I knew I was on first base and getting congratulated.”

He wasn’t going to be patient for his first RBI, either, driving in another Giant with a fourth-inning double.

That other Giant? Buster Posey. The same Buster Posey he watched win three World Series with his eyes glued to the TV, a Giants fan from Sacramento suddenly — or, perhaps, not so suddenly — taking ground balls at third.

“I remember watching them lose in ’02, and that was the first time being heartbroken as a sports fan,” said the Phillies cast-off, who has stayed healthy and hit 23 homers in 64 games with Triple-A Sacramento. “And then when they won in 2010, that was a special year. For my first big league action to be in a Giants uniform is especially humbling and special.”

Green had rejected college, wanting to play baseball professionally as quickly as possible. He was a third-round pick who hit immediately until the injuries struck and “seemed to pile on each other,” he said. He couldn’t stay on the field until last season, when he broke out, slashing .296/.375/.578 with Double-A Reading, but never getting his call-up. The Phillies didn’t put him on their 40-man roster, and he became a free agent. Farhan Zaidi thought he’d give him a chance.

Saturday he was in Tacoma, Wash., playing another game in the minors. And now he’s here.

“It was special,” he said, adding it did not feel real yet.

“It was unreal,” Menez said.


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