February 22, 2007

Greinke trying to bounce back from personal problems: Royals pitcher Zach Greinke talks about his battle with depression, how it almost ruined his baseball career, and his current attempt at a comeback.

posted by spira to baseball at 03:37 PM - 5 comments

I'm really pulling for this guy. He could really do great things in KC. But more than that, i hope that he succeeds b/c he has faced the reality of his situation and sounds like he's grown personally. I hope that his career sees the fruit of that maturation. If not, who cares? I'm glad he's healing more than anything.

posted by brainofdtrain at 04:10 PM on February 22, 2007

I agree, brainofdtrain, with pulling for the guy; the Royals' do need him to carry even a little of the load. But even the best talent can be misspent without the proper coaching. I'm not talking about Buddy Bell, I'm talking about the pitching coach, or what used to be the revolving door around here.

posted by deerhunter at 08:34 PM on February 22, 2007

Zack Greinke sounds like an intelligent, courageous young man. The awareness he has of his issues and challenges and his openness will help him overcome his situation. Baseball is the least of his concerns, if he feels good about himself, he has succeeded. I sincerely wish him all the best, and if baseball happens to be a part of his life, good, if not, so be it. Baseball is what he does, not who he is.

posted by tommybiden at 10:47 PM on February 22, 2007

Honestly, I don't know why this condition (or phenomenon, give it what name you like) doesn't occur with more young starting pitchers. So many athletes at that level must have serious doubts about their skills, questioning whether they can be successful at the highest level. When the expectation of success falls on you, it can only heighten that anxiety. That he wanted to be a hitter, to me, is pretty telling. Failure as a hitter lasts only one or two innings, at most from the end of the game one day to the beginning of the next. Starting pitchers wear their failure for four full days before they get their chance at redemption. I realize that a perceived medical condition is the foundation for Greinke's problem, and it's not an uncommon condition, but it seems to me his role can only serve to intensify the fear and anxiety that comes with that condition. He seems like a person who craves reinforcement and affirmation of his talents, and that comes a lot easier to someone who gets three or four chances to succeed every day rather than one opportunity every five days. I will definitely root for him to become the pitcher he is capable of being, but I hope for his sake that short term success doesn't lead to a harder long term battle, a scenario in which he feels he is battling demons with every bullpen session amid increasingly high expectations.

posted by The Crafty Sousepaw at 02:24 AM on February 23, 2007

This reminds me of Jim Piersall's career and struggles with mental illness. Piersall's statistics are here. Piersall debuted with the Boston Red Sox in 1952, and wound up in a mental institution shortly thereafter. He came back from his problems, and went on to be a 2-time all star and to win 2 AL gold gloves as a center fielder. He finished his playing career with the Angels in 1967. Greinke has that example to look to for inspiration. He has a tall hill to climb, but Piersall's story shows it can be done. We wish him well.

posted by Howard_T at 10:38 AM on February 23, 2007

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