Chad Green returns to Yankee Stadium in a different shade of blue

As the Yankees were taking batting practice on Tuesday, Tommy Kahnle emerged from the Bombers’ dugout, sprinted toward Toronto’s and bear-hugged Chad Green.

Green, just a few games into his Blue Jays career after recovering from Tommy John surgery and signing with them over the offseason, made his return to Yankee Stadium on Tuesday. The reliever pitched in New York from 2016-2022.

“Walking in on the other side, it’s just different,” Green said. “I’m definitely excited to be back. Definitely looking forward to pitching here.”

Green was a model of consistency before a torn ulnar collateral ligament abruptly ended his 2022 campaign after just 14 games, as he recorded a 2.95 ERA over 323 innings from 2017-2021.

“It’s a very short list of guys that have been that good out of the bullpen for that long, especially without being a closer necessarily,” Aaron Boone said. “He’s been so consistent in this game and just one of the anchors of our bullpen before I was here, and certainly the last five years before this year.”

Boone added that he himself became emotional when he learned of Green’s Tommy John diagnosis last year because he holds the righty in such high regard.

“Chad’s a pro,” the manager said. “I mean, in every way. Great teammate, works really hard, takes the ball, is accountable. And somebody that, in this game, I have a ton of respect for.”

Green also remembers being emotional when he found out he needed Tommy John surgery. Being an impending free agent made for terrible timing, but he said the hardest part was knowing that he had likely thrown his last pitch in pinstripes.

While some teams will spend notable money to sign pitchers actively rehabbing from Tommy John surgery in hopes of benefitting down the road, Green said the Yankees don’t usually do that.

“I kind of put two and two together and realized that probably my Yankee career was over at that time,” the 32-year-old said.

Green went on to say that he and the Yankees had “small talks” over the winter, but they didn’t show serious interest in bringing him back.

Still, Green considers himself “very fortunate to play for one team for seven years,” and he inked a one-year, $2.25 million deal with the Blue Jays in January. That contract includes a 2024 option.

Green is still working his way back to the pitcher he was with the Yankees. He entered Tuesday’s series opener with a 7.36 ERA over his first eight games for Toronto.

While he is now focused on trying to regain his past form and help the Jays secure a playoff spot, Green said he was happy to see close friends like Kahnle and Michael King on Tuesday. He mentioned that he still keeps tabs on his old team, too.

“I definitely watch the box scores and see what’s going on,” Green said. “I still have good friends over there, so I like to keep up on them and see how they’re doing.”

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