Blog Entry

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

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

Greinke

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."

Why?

"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
Comments

Since: Jun 22, 2009
Posted on: February 23, 2011 3:31 pm
 

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

Not to sound insensitive....OK, maybe to sound insensitive, what is "social anxiety disorder"?  Is this real?  What are the criteria by which someone is diagnosed with this?  Playing the devil's advocate, any a-hole who doesn't get along with people and who grows tired of that part of his job, namely interacting with the media and answering their questions, can just come out and claim to have "SAD".  Now, he gets what he wants and all is good.  Must be nice.  Greinke sounds like someone that I'd like to see Albert/Joey Belle beat the crap out of (a dated reference, but you get what I mean).  Or maybe that sissy douche nozzle from the Reds could kick him.  That would work as well.


fuzznutz
Since: Oct 6, 2006
Posted on: February 23, 2011 3:29 pm
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Dec 4, 2006
Posted on: February 23, 2011 3:28 pm
 

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

I'm not exactly sure how a pitcher "dogs it" or where in this interview Greinke said that he "dogged it". He pitched every fifth day for one of the worst franchises in the major leagues. He won double digit games with a respectable 4.17 ERA and pitched 220 innings. It wasn't as good as his 2009 season, but that was a Cy Young kind of season for a pitcher that had never had a Cy Young type season. Anyone who was banking on a repeat performance was dreaming. The fact is he pitched more innings than 90% of the starters out there and had 21 quality starts (top 10 in the league). With a K/BB ratio also in the top 10. The guy doing the interview probably hit Greinke (who has a legitimate problem with dealing with other people) with some sort of leading question and now the media wants to run with it. He said he gave 100% every time he took the mound. The fact that he told it like it is, and wasn't spouting off about having 100% focus playing for a team with 0 playoff aspirations after April, and no prospects of having them anytime soon, is refreshing. Does he lose focus easier in a September game pitching for a Royals team that will back him with 1 run against an Indians team in a race for 70 wins than he would in October against the Yankees in the NLCS? Common sense would say that he would. Anybody who would say otherwise is a liar. The regular season for the most part is meaningless for many of the teams with no postseason aspirations. The NBA and NFL mitigate this by allowing more teams into the postseason, thus teams are eliminated later in the season and cling to some hope. The MLB doesn't do such a thing which creates a league with several teams who for all practical purposes are eliminated with 100+ games to go in the season and at times contain players who lose focus. Everybody does it.



Since: Oct 23, 2006
Posted on: February 23, 2011 3:20 pm
 

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

He'd best be banking every penny he can now, because at the first sign of trouble, teams will hardly be lining up for his services, after his openly admitting he dogged it in his last season in Kansas City.

Gary Sheffield openly admitted that he dogged it while playing for the Brewers.  He committed errors on purpose and did not give his all for the team because he did not like Milwaukee.  Numerous teams lined-up over and over again for his services.



Since: Jun 21, 2009
Posted on: February 23, 2011 3:10 pm
 

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

'However, Evan Brunell has worse things to worry about - I mean, Greinke is going to murder him.'
I doubt Greinke could get even a quarter of a way through the article without zoning out. Based on this article, would you blame him?





Since: Sep 1, 2009
Posted on: February 23, 2011 3:04 pm
 

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

Zack Greinke has had a God-given opportunity to achieve fame and fortune, and is making a total mess of it. He'd best be banking every penny he can now, because at the first sign of trouble, teams will hardly be lining up for his services, after his openly admitting he dogged it in his last season in Kansas City. Who wants or needs that sort of rubbish in clubhouses already filled with massive egos beyond imagining? Anyone care to make a friendly wager on how long it will be before he goes off the rails because someone has annoyed him? While I understand that his anxiety is a far from easy problem to face, his former team stood by him, gave him the chance to succeed, and he spit on them. He's had the means to deal with his troubles, and who knows whether he ever will. When our subject goes on the road, one suspects the fans who pay a great deal to watch him pitch-and make far less-will be rather less forgiving.



Since: Sep 12, 2008
Posted on: February 23, 2011 3:03 pm
 

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

I have suffered with SAD (social anxiety disorder) for years. I know what it's like. That is no excuse for dogging it or the way he acts in meetings/with media. It is harder for him to deal with these "annoyances" than the average individual, but it's his job. I know my limitations and would not do a job I cannot handle, he should do the same. He is paid very well to deal with these annoyances.



Since: Dec 1, 2006
Posted on: February 23, 2011 3:01 pm
 

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

I love the fact that he said its hard to play 162 games a year.  Your a starting pitcher you only play in about 32 games a year.  What do losers do they quit, therefore Greinke is a loser!  Go take your meds you head case!




Since: Sep 6, 2006
Posted on: February 23, 2011 3:00 pm
 

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

This article and the author are garbage....
I fully expected you to be a Royals fan, having posted this. But seeing as you are a Twins fan, I supposed this is somewhat of a rational viewpoint.

However, Evan Brunell has worse things to worry about - I mean, Greinke is going to murder him.



Since: Apr 13, 2007
Posted on: February 23, 2011 2:57 pm
 

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

Talk about twisting the intent/words of Zack Greinke.  This is pretty sloppy writing & the author should be pleased that an athlete actually dares to think differently about something or, at the very least, admitting what just about all athletes would feel in the same situation. 


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