"His injuries are freak injuries, and they happen because he's an aggressive player both at the plate and in the field," Towers says. "He broke one finger while he was trying to short hop a ball at the bag at second base. Another time he was diving for a ball and fractured his toe.
"Last year, the ligament, he was taking a swing and it was the knob of the bat that twisted his finger."
He finished second to Pittsburgh's Jason Bay in the NL Rookie of the Year balloting in 2004 -- Baseball America named him its top rookie -- and he has consistently cracked 15 homers in each of his full seasons in the majors.
His 47 homers (he hit two in a 20-game stint at the end of the '03 season) are the most ever for a Padres shortstop, and being that he has played most of his career in pitcher-friendly Petco Park, that's telling (splits: 15 career homers in Petco, 32 on the road).
The Padres made him their first-round pick in the 2002 draft, and they've never been sorry.
"He's got a chance, I think, to be a very special player," Towers says. "We know the defense is there. And offensively, he hits 15 home runs with the potential to hit 20-plus. Not many middle infielders do that anymore."
Odd thing is, he never missed a game while playing for Clemson. Answered the bell for each of the Tigers' 272 games while he was there.
Other odd thing is the unfortunate stretch-run timing of his damaged digits in the majors.
In 2004, he fractured his right index finger on Sept. 13 and was limited to just two pinch-running appearances the rest of the season. The Padres missed him badly, tailed off in the wild-card race and finished third in the NL West.
In '05, he fractured his right ring finger on April 18 ... and then fractured his right big toe on Aug. 15. After missing the final two weeks in August, he returned in September.
In '06, he sprained the ligament in his left middle finger during an at-bat on Aug. 3 and was pretty much a non-factor the rest of the way. Though the Padres won the NL West for a second consecutive season -- Geoff Blum was admirable at short in Greene's stead -- they were swept by St. Louis in the playoffs. And Greene only had four at-bats.
"Each injury was different," says Greene, who has played in more than 121 games in a season only once, as a rookie. "They all occurred during different things. Many times, you can get hurt during the most mundane things at home, or putting your bag up on top of your locker.
"People get hurt on an everyday basis, and then they put a boot on their foot and go to work. This is a high-performance job, and the difference is, your digits, joints and ligaments have to be in line."
Greene says he doesn't dwell on the string of injuries, thinking about them only when asked. And he says the temptation to wonder what he could do over a full season hasn't much clouded his thoughts.
"Soon enough, I'll play an entire season and that will be that and the questions will be irrelevant," he says. "I don't concern myself with seeing what I could do over full seasons because that's statistical. I distance myself as much as possible from statistically judging a season.
"That's tough to do when your name is associated with stat lines, and it's the part of the game I dislike the most. You need a team game to win. It's a lot more fun to play, and it's easier on your mind, when you're not worried about what your numbers are."
With sometimes flashy play that belies his outward stoicism, with stringy blonde hair reminiscent of Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High and with his penchant for meaningful, late-inning homers, Greene has become something of a heartthrob in San Diego.
"He's an introvert, yet he's probably one of the most popular players in our market," Tower says. "But that's not what Khalil is all about. He's all business. He's got a tremendous work ethic. It's almost as the more popular he gets, the more reclusive he gets."
That, the Padres don't mind. It's events rendering him reclusive on the field that have been the real drag.