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: Dec 4, 2006
Posted on: February 23, 2011 4:02 pm

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

I doubt the team would stop paying Greinke. Because even if he admitted to "not giving it his all" whatever that means in this context, he was still far and away the best player on the Royals and a top 10 pitcher in the AL.

Since: Feb 23, 2007
Posted on: February 23, 2011 4:00 pm

Bull Crap!!

How do you go from CY Young to Flopper? I can tell you that he wasn't NOT trying!  He had 1 count it ONE great year and now every batter knows his weaknesses.  Take away last year and his era is easily 4.50, not good!  Yes he has no run support, yes there's nobody behind him, yes the Royals suck as a franchise, but don't make up lies to try to make yourself sound better for a potential new team.  It comes down to this, either he: A) Did "throw in the towel" and gave up (Owners typically don't like to see this in their players) or B) He is back to a nobody in which case (Owners typically don't want these type of players).  I hope you held onto every game used jersey, ball, cap etc. so that you can sign it and peddle it on e-bay for some dough when you're out right Released.

Since: Sep 5, 2008
Posted on: February 23, 2011 3:57 pm

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

Already commented on this disgrace before but had to add, Where is the Players Union stand on this one?  Oh they would be quick on it if the fteam noticed he wasn't giving his all last year and they threatened to stop paying him.  Oh this would have been front page news and all over ESPN, but let the player not only do it, BUT ADMIT it and why isn't the Union demanding he pay back his half a year that he dogged?

Since: May 24, 2007
Posted on: February 23, 2011 3:54 pm

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

Way to show who you really are....A loser....

Since: Sep 21, 2007
Posted on: February 23, 2011 3:52 pm

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

Unbelievable that he would admit it much less actually doing it. There are some athletes being paid way beyond their intelligence. As a Rangers fan I am beyond thrilled that we did not get him. He is a disgrace to the game.

Since: Sep 5, 2008
Posted on: February 23, 2011 3:51 pm

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

Well doesn't this give the Brewers hope that their "ace" (shouldn't that be ASS) could or will quit on them if things are going right.  And how about the money he collected when he wasn't giving his all, did any of that go back, hell no.  Yeah 162 game schedule is a grind, but wake up stupid, that's why yor salary amount ends in "millions per year".  And let's not forget you ARE NOT playing in all 162 games, you start what maybe 35, how about that outfielder or shortstop that actually plays in 140+ games a year, and when they are having a bad day they aren't pulled and a reliever goes in to finish up, they stick out the whole game.  Instead of you stinking up the game with these comments.

Since: Jan 17, 2008
Posted on: February 23, 2011 3:47 pm

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

Good riddance. This poor kid is two missed pills away from a total meltdown. I would be shocked to see him pitching in the majors in five years. Way to admit that you quit on your team. Have fun, Milwaukee. Better be good or he'll quit on you, too.

Since: Apr 28, 2008
Posted on: February 23, 2011 3:45 pm

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

fuzznuts: This will be a BRUTAL SEASON for the Royals. Look at Hochevar's lifetime ERA, and recognize that he is the nominal Ace in the rotation. KC might break the ERA record this year. If all the pitchers pitch to the stats on the back of their baseball card - and only Mazzaro or O'Sullivan can realistically even pray to improve - then none of 'em has a hope of even being .500.
Brutal Season.

Since: Feb 5, 2009
Posted on: February 23, 2011 3:42 pm

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

wow he quit on the team and himself, even with a disorder that dosen't give him an excuse to quit, he could just be making an excuse for his rising ERA. I think hes overated anyway so far hes just a one year wonder, probably will do well just because he will be in the NL.  

Since: Jul 21, 2010
Posted on: February 23, 2011 3:33 pm

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

Play ball and stop the whinning! Anxiety has NOTHING to do with his checking out and basically quitting on his team. Bob Feller is rolling over in his grave right now! I give him no credit for telling the truth! Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool, than open it and prove it to be true!! Next time Zach, shhhhhhhh! Just Play!

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