Unfathomable is the fact that, with MLB training camps opening soon, clubs have shunned one of the most productive outfielders in recent decades. I refer to a chap who’s coming off a decent season, has a reputation as a model citizen and is perfectly healthy.

So, no, not Barry Bonds, who’s being blackballed because of alleged steroid use, obstruction of justice charges and wobbly knees.

The player I’m citing is Shawn Green, a former Toronto Blue Jays standout who, at 35, is eight years younger than Bonds. With the New York Mets last season, Green batted .291, with 10 home runs, 46 runs batted in and 11 stolen bases. Only two active players, Ken Griffey Jr. and Gary Sheffield, have accomplished what Green has by producing at least 300 homers, 1,000 runs and RBIs, 400 doubles and 150 stolen bases.


“Green hasn’t lost much,” an MLB scout tells me. “He’d still be an asset at the plate and in the outfield. His unemployment is a huge mystery to me.”

Question: Couldn’t the Blue Jays use a decent outfielder?

•The Cincinnati Reds are close to signing 37-year-old outfielder Kenny Lofton, which makes what’s happening to Green even more incomprehensible … Veteran pitcher Livan Hernandez also could hook up soon with the Reds if they can’t swing a deal with the Oakland A’s for Joe Blanton … The Baltimore Orioles, incidentally, probably will move next spring to the famed Dodgertown site in Vero Beach, Fla. This will be the Dodgers’ last spring at Vero Beach after 50 years there. They’re moving to Arizona in 2009, something many in baseball thought they’d never see.

•The CFL will have to live with this: Metro newspapers have beaten the league to the punch by expanding to Halifax … Now that they’re Super Bowl champions, Osi Umeyiora and Plaxico Burress lead a long lineup of New York Giants seeking raises … Sunday’s Pro Bowl was dull, largely because Tom Brady, Brett Favre and LaDainian Tomlinson skipped it. The NBA’s All-Star Game next Sunday probably won’t be much better since Kobe Bryant plans to reveal he can’t make it because of a sore finger … Spotted this week: Bryant eating Kobe beef at a place called the Kobe Club. No joke … And, after the neck gashing injury suffered by the Florida Panthers’ Richard Zednik on Sunday, two questions: How is it that we haven’t seen more accidents like this? And why aren’t NHLers compelled to wear neck guards?


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