ST. LOUIS (AP) - Khalil Greene's 2008 season with the San Diego Padres ended in July when he punched a dugout wall, breaking his left hand.
The St. Louis Cardinals don't want frustration to eat at him again, so they are using their slumping shortstop in a utility role for the time being.
"My evaluation is he's really stressing himself because he wants to play better than he's playing, and that's making him play worse," manager Tony La Russa said Wednesday. "I want to take that off him, and we'll see if that helps him.
"At some point he needs to play better, so I'm just doing what I can."
Greene was acquired by the Cardinals in the offseason in hopes he could shake off a career-worst season and fill a void at shortstop. He was not in the lineup for the fifth time in six games Wednesday night against the Chicago Cubs while mired in a 2-for-23 slump that dropped his average to .202 and prompted him to slam his bat to the turf after one recent failure at the plate.
"Guys are wired for competition," Greene told The Associated Press. "It's just a competitiveness that I think everybody has whether it be playing dominos, video games or baseball.
"It's hard to turn that off, so it's not necessarily trying to get rid of it but trying to find a way to use it in a positive way."
Greene batted .213 with 10 homers and 35 RBIs last season, one year after he achieved career highs with 27 homers and 97 RBIs with the Padres. He cost the Cardinals a couple prospects and is in the final year of a contract paying him $6.5 million this season.
General manager John Mozeliak told the AP that Greene was "dealing with some personal issues" and was being treated for symptoms of anxiety. Mozeliak said at this point the team was not considering placing him on the disabled list. Greene was hampered by tendinitis in his right wrist earlier in the season.
"We feel it's controllable and he can work his way through this," Mozeliak said. "It is an anxiety issue at this time and he's being treated accordingly. I'm confident he can work through this."
Greene denied he was having "anxiety attacks," but was receptive to La Russa's decision to take the heat off and has been taking early batting and fielding practice in recent days. The Cardinals have replacement options, with Brendan Ryan and rookie Tyler Greene both seeing time.
"To be able to see the game, I don't want to say as an outsider, but at least from a different perspective I think helps breed a different outlook," he said. "To be able to see things for what they really are.
"I think getting in those moments where I'm really focused on what I'm doing, it's hard to look outside of that. So it is helpful."
The Cardinals are worried Greene takes the lows much too hard. Greene said most of the pressure he's feeling is self-imposed, and that failures aren't so easy for him to forget.
"Some people, they're able to get rid of things quicker," he said. "I think everybody's got different genetic makeup, different brain makeup, and I think some people can shrug things off a little easier than others.
"That's been something I've struggled with, trying to get to the point where I can kind of let things go."
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.