Blog Entry

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

Posted on: February 23, 2011 2:35 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2011 4:21 pm


In a wide-ranging interview with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Zack Greinke admitted he "just did what he was asked" the second half of 2010 for the Royals, a tacit admission he wasn't invested in his or the team's production.

"When the games started, I pitched 100% every time," he said. "But in the second half, I just did what was asked."


"Close to the trade deadline and I was doing all this stuff, the organization wasn’t really doing the same effort. They were doing the same effort the long run but not for that season or the next season. It’s not easy to play 162 games and be focused the whole time. It takes a lot out of you."

No one's denying that it's difficult to be focused for 162 games. After all, it's a marathon, not a sprint. But to admit that he didn't do all that he could have done in the second half is not just a disservice to himself, but a disservice to the game. His frustration doesn't appear to stem from the way the Royals did business -- just how they were approaching the season, which speaks to Greinke's personal motivations.

"They’re probably No. 1 in prospects in all of baseball," he said. (In fact, they are No. 1, and by far.) "When your prospects are that good, it’s hard to ignore it. It had to almost change the path of the organization."

That's exactly what happened in K.C., as the Royals are preparing for a brutal season this year, all in the name of working in their top players over the year and into 2012. That doesn't give Greinke license to take the year off, however. And looking at his first- and second-half splits, it's easy to see the difference. In 18 starts prior to the All-Star break, Greinke posted a 3.71 ERA, whiffing 101 and walking just 22. That's not close to his 2009 AL Cy Young Award season, but still a darn good pitcher.

The second half, however, saw his ERA spike to 4.72 in 15 starts, punching out 80 and walking 33. While his strikeout rate only dipped 0.8 points, his walk rate ballooned. So the statistics back up Greinke's claim that he didn't do above and beyond what was asked of him (which was simply to take the ball every fifth day). 

And yeah, even though the Royals weren't -- and didn't -- win, you don't get paid $7.25 million to jake it.

The Royals may not have put a winning team around Greinke, but to repay this way K.C. for the hoops it jumped through to make sure Greinke got the treatment and time needed to deal with his social anxiety disorder is disturbing. Then-GM Allard Baird was tireless in defending Greinke for walking out as one of the best pitching prospects that had come along in quite a long time. To hear Greinke tell it, he could have sworn he was done with baseball.

Greinke"I was done playing [in my mind]," he said. "I was surprised I came back. They had me see a psychologist. We found out what was going on and why I didn’t like going on a baseball field. I thought it was a 10 percent chance of coming back."

Now that he's admitted how he dogged the second half of the year, it will be a reputation that ends up following him for the rest of his career. Now, teams know to keep him happy and keep the team winning, or he'll check out. And that's not a reputation you want, especially when the team already has to manage keeping him happy, which is clearly difficult to do. 

And what happens if Milwaukee fails after the year? They gave up major pieces of their future to get Greinke, expecting him to pitch at the top of his level for at least the two years he is under contract. But this is a team going for it this year, with Prince Fielder as a free agent. Although Grienke says he expects the Brewers to win beyond 2011, Fielder or not... what happens if they don't win? Does Greinke check out?

As a Brewer, he's been pleased with how camp has gone so far, saying he has fit in easily. But then you hear this: "I like a lot of the guys. I haven't seen anyone yet that's annoying to me. They've all been good."

Now, it's very difficult to judge Greinke for this particular bit, as the fact remains that he has social anxiety disorder and it clearly affects him, and those that don't suffer from it can never truly know what it is like. Still, it's notable that he looks out for people that could be "annoying" -- and given his social anxiety disorder, he could find simple chit-chat annoying. That appears to be why he dislikes talking to the media, because of all the "eyewash comments" he gets when "random people come and waste my time talking every day. It takes eight minutes to get a real question out because they’re like buttering me up," Greinke says. "Then they get to the question and it’s a stupid question. So it’s a waste of 10 minutes, and in that 10-minute time I don’t get to do what I needed to do."

Except that's a cop-out, right? After all, Greinke had plenty of time for the media last year given he wasn't preparing to pitch after the All-Star break.

"To talk to people, I have to spend energy talking to them," he said. "If I expend my energy on talking to people and making friends, it takes away from the energy I could focus on getting ready to pitch. I try to avoid nonsense talk."

Greinke clearly views communicating with people as an expense, and he admits it affects him in meetings with the team or the daily pitcher/catcher meetings prior to each game.

"It wears me out to do stuff like our meetings every day," Greinke admitted. "If I actually listen to the person talking, it’ll wear me out. So I kind of go into a little daze. Then I’m still refreshed from it."

Give Greinke credit for this: he's honest, and he's not afraid to show how he feels. This allows us to understand where he's coming from. It can't be easy to suffer from social anxiety disorder and play a profession that demands constant interaction.

Openly admitting not giving his all, however, is unacceptable no matter the circumstances.

UPDATE: This is important -- Tom Haudricourt wrote a follow-up article later Wednesday that made clear that none of the reporters sensed any "malice" on Greinke's part with regards to the comment about annoyance and the media. "These are simply the daily demons that he deals with," Haudricourt writes.

Let's be clear about one thing. I certainly wish no malice on Greinke's part. In fact, I find it impressive and commendable how far he has come and how successfully he has managed his disorder.

It remains no excuse for dogging it. And Greinke clearly stated that he did. 

-- Evan Brunell

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Category: MLB

Since: Nov 14, 2008
Posted on: February 23, 2011 8:24 pm

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

This is the Royals, folks. Kind of hypocritical for an organization that doesn't give it's all year in and year out to compete and then be too mad when one of the player's leads by your example. Same goes for the Pirates. These are organizations that have been awful and clearly aren't serious about anything except turning a profit. This isn't the Mariners, a perpetually bad team that at least spends money and is legitimately trying to compete (just doing it stupidly). He won't have any of these types of issues on the Brewers.

Since: Nov 18, 2006
Posted on: February 23, 2011 7:58 pm

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

The guy made himself look like a little punk is what he did. He also was making excuses for his subpar season. Not to mention everytime for the rest of his career if he goes into a bad streak he will be questioned as a jaker. To me this was a major mistake by this guy and should give his new team and fans more then a reason for pause. What a punk.

Since: Mar 2, 2008
Posted on: February 23, 2011 7:50 pm

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

Not even remotely shocking.  He stopped caring once he realized how long everything would supposedly take for the Royals to get good.  t least he finally admitted the obvious which was going on in the second half.

Since: Feb 18, 2008
Posted on: February 23, 2011 7:49 pm

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

Well, I said he was his own worst enemy last year, and this just proves it.  Teams will have to ask themselves if he's really giving it all if he has a stretch of bad games.  And, if he's done it once, won't it make it just a little easier to do it next time.  Don't feel that hot, have all this money, maybe decide to stay home and relax a little.  Kinda reminds me of Allen Iverson, the only difference is Iverson, even on his worst day was better than most on their their very best day.  Can't say that about Greinke, where the margin of error is so small in baseball between throwing a good game and just being plain lousy.  I expect the latter out of Greinke.  He'll get tired and decide to coast along for the free ride.  Too bad for Milwaukee.  They don't deserve this.

Since: Aug 7, 2008
Posted on: February 23, 2011 7:47 pm

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

From day one I have been telling everyone that Zack is an overrated player who will never be as good as he thinks he can be. Also when many sports writers continue to say that the young Zack "can only get better" and that he will prove to be a great pitcher. That might be true. But as far as I can remember. No great pitcher every was accused of "dogging it" much less admitted to doing it. Poor Zack needs a new agent and a psychologist. Sure baseball players are people too and they have problems like us normal people. But when a person gets paid millions of dollars to do his job and have thousands of fans cheering him on the guy better not have anything that comes out of mouth that even remotely sounds like he is not trying hard at all. Looks like Zack surely pawned the Royals into giving him that lucrative contract. I wonder which team the Royals will pawn Zack to because Zack surely does not want to play for the Royals.

Since: Jul 6, 2009
Posted on: February 23, 2011 7:36 pm

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

Bad move, Zachie boy!

Since: Dec 29, 2009
Posted on: February 23, 2011 7:05 pm

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

    This comes as no surprise to Royals fans. Everyone in KC knew that he wasn't trying last year. This kid has a serious maturity problem and Royals fans, management and teamates have known it for a long time. Why do you think there was such a lack of outrage when the trade was announced? Roylas fans that have been paying attention realise it was a great trade for the Royals.

    Zack will probably do well with the Brewers, at least until he has a couple of bad starts or the team hits the skids and starts losing. Then he'll quit just like he did before. Once a quitter, always a quitter.

Since: Oct 2, 2006
Posted on: February 23, 2011 7:03 pm

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

Choices are: (a) he's subpar in giving less than his best all the time; (b) he's not unlike many other players, but too stupid and/or arrogant to keep his piehole shut about it.

Since: Aug 16, 2009
Posted on: February 23, 2011 6:50 pm

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

Yeah, Zach seemingly is prone to anger and self pity. Bad move to come out and say that he sandbagged.

Since: May 17, 2008
Posted on: February 23, 2011 6:50 pm

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

My gawd after seeing just the first page of this.  the previous poster said a lot of what I would have regarding being 100% all the time.  No one does it every day, every one has bad days at work and inefficient ones. 

Sorry but I am not buying this excuse.  Yes we all have bad days, my self included, but it is not from lack of trying.  What Greinke has said is not that he "had some bad days" in the second half----which is expected, nobody goes undefeated; what is NOT okay, under any circumstance, is not trying to do your best and that is what Greinke is admitting to doing--not trying, quitting.  If you are not going to give your best effort, be a man and stand up and tell the manager before the game, "hey, I'm not going to give it my best effort today" so the team can let someone else pitch who will actually try to earn their money.

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