View Full Version : Dutton: Greinke puts spin on lackluster spring

03-09-2005, 02:28 AM

Greinke puts his spin on lackluster outing


The Kansas City Star

SURPRISE, Ariz. — Those ugly numbers and that suspect approach? Forget it. Royals pitcher Zack Greinke says things couldn't be going better in spring training.

“I almost want to dial it back some,” he said. “That's what I was doing Sunday. I felt really good. I don't need to push it too much now, because I feel like I'm just about ready. I don't want to waste good pitches down here.”

Got it?

It is well-established that Greinke often views life from a different perspective. Similarly, his talent and potential already entitle him, at age 21, to the benefit of the doubt within the organization.

Even so, more than a few Royals openly wondered what he was seeking to accomplish in his last outing, when he fed the Milwaukee Brewers a steady diet of fastballs and change-ups, at batting-practice speed, down the middle of the plate.

“If you just want to throw fastballs, fine,” one player said. “But compete with your fastball. Just don't lay it in there.”

Greinke allowed seven runs and seven hits in a two-inning performance that another teammate termed, “A complete waste of time.”

Turns out, Greinke was executing a plan — albeit one he hadn't bothered to share with pitching coach Guy Hansen, manager Tony Peña or anyone else.

Greinke wanted to induce contact after walking two of four hitters in a “B” game against the Rangers in his first spring outing. Nothing more. Throw the ball over the plate. Period.

“The first inning was almost a side session,” he said. “I was really just seeing if I could control the ball where I wanted to. I felt like I did that, and I got to see what happens if I don't bring my best stuff.

“Like the leadoff hitter (Brady Clark), he wasn't trying to crush the ball, but he would be a little late on the fastball, a good fastball. He was just trying to put the ball in play with solid contact, so he was waiting back on the off-speed pitches.”

Clark hit one of those off-speed pitches for a triple. Greinke gave up four extra-base hits in his two innings, including two homers to Carlos Lee.

“I saw some adjustments to change-ups,” Greinke said, “because I threw so many that they were adjusting to it. And I saw that my fastball was my best pitch.”

To him, it was the perfect time to experiment.

“It was Milwaukee,” he said. “I'm not going to face them during the season. So I can do whatever I want with them. It doesn't matter, because we don't play them.”

Yet, Greinke sensed that his approach had raised doubts within the clubhouse, which is why he sought out several veteran players for their views.

“They told me they knew of people who did it (my) way,” he said, “but that they didn't feel they could dial it up whenever they wanted to. Some people can, but they told me they can't — so they've never tried that.

“It's spring training. It doesn't really mean anything. But they told me they still like to see everyone give 100 percent. After talking to them, I know I can't go out there and just (experiment) anymore.”

Greinke said he also understands why his performance raised alarms with fans.

“If I go to an NBA (exhibition) game,” he said, “and Steve Francis scores only one point, I'd be thinking, ‘What in the world is going on?'

“To me, both of these outings have been as good as they possibly could be. I feel better now after those than I would if I had gone one-two-three in every inning. If that had happened, I'd be doing well but not really learning anything.

“Getting hit is helping me right now. Seriously, I could not be any happier about where I am (in getting ready for the season). But if I continue to get hit, that will be different. If I continue to get hit, I'm in trouble.”

General manager Allard Baird said the club wasn't upset by Greinke's approach, but Baird also is looking for better results in future appearances.

“I don't think he wasn't competing,” Baird said. “That would be an issue with me. I like the approach. I like the upper-echelon level of thinking for such a young man. That's great.

“But as you start to move to the next game, you want to see him throw a change-up that paints the black. That his fastball at that speed hits the spot. That you stay out of the middle of the plate.”

Greinke's next scheduled appearance is Friday against the A's.

“The main thing is: I feel great now,” he said. “I feel that by the time the season starts, I will be able to throw everything. I'm almost there. Even my next outing, or the one after that, if I really wanted to put it in high gear, I feel like I could throw any pitch as a (high-)quality pitch.”

03-09-2005, 02:36 AM
Can't say the kid doesn't have confidence.

03-09-2005, 02:46 AM
Someone wrote his quotes for him, he is not this eloquent. This guy has the skills to be a great pitcher, but he is a space cadet.