Don't boo Greinke, Royals fans -- thank him for the pieces he brought to KC
JUN 24, 2014 1:14a ET
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Boo Zack Greinke? After all he's done for you?
There's Lorenzo Cain, tracking down another screaming liner in right field and making it look easy. There's Cain with another two-hit night, raising his average to .314.
There's Alcides Escobar at short, keeping one of the best defensive infields in baseball water-tight. There's Escobar with another two-hit night, lifting his average to .291.
There's Wade Davis, The Bridge, racking up another scoreless appearance, his 20th in a row.
Without Greinke trying to force his way out of town, none of that's possible.
None of that happens. Not here. Not in tandem, anyway.
"I mean, I was pretty rude on the way out," the former Kansas City ace said after his old team (the Royals) rocked his new team (the Los Angeles Dodgers), 5-3, Monday at Kauffman Stadium. "So they have every right to be mad at me."
The locals treated him like Robbie Knievel when he entered. They treated him like Robbie Cano when he left.
After allowing 11 hits and five earned runs in 5 2/3 innings -- the most hits Greinke had allowed at The K in one outing since July 3, 2005 -- the former Royals first-round draft pick exited Monday's series-opener to a chorus of boos, a cathartic release for prior sins.
"I don't know," Greinke offered when asked about the unfriendly farewell. "It's weird. I mean, I pitched good the last time I was here (with the Angels). They cheered. I pitched good the first time (with the Brewers). They cheered. This time they cheered when they announced my name and then when I gave (up) the runs, they booed, so ...."
"They sound conflicted," a reporter chirped.
"I'm not a psychologist," the pitcher replied.
It didn't take a shrink to figure this one out. Bad blood. Old wounds. And a lot of history. On both sides.
It's been almost four years since the December 2010 trade to Milwaukee -- a trade Greinke pushed for -- that signaled the end of a roller-coaster, mercurial run in Kansas City. The 30-year-old right-hander remains part of civic lore, as much for what he did on the mound -- Greinke captured a Cy Young Award in 2009 -- as for what he brought in return.
The legend has been well-hashed, and hashed again: Greinke was flipped into a starting shortstop in Escobar and a starting outfielder in Cain, both top-shelf gloves whose bats have come around this summer, too. Greinke was flipped into Jake Odorizzi -- who was, in turn, packaged with super-prospect Wil Myers and flipped to Tampa Bay for pitchers James Shields and Davis.
Shields has a 21-12 record the over the past two seasons as the Royals' ace, helping to mold a new clubhouse culture from one of promise to one of expectations. After starting last season in the rotation with spotty results, Davis has locked down the eighth-inning setup role and become one of the game's dominant relievers in 2014.
"The guys that got traded for me have been playing good," said Greinke, now 0-1 lifetime in three starts against the Royals. "And I think the Odorizzi guy is pitching really good, too, (even though) he's not here anymore. But it looks like they got some good players."
Scrappy players, too. With the hosts already up 2-0, center fielder Jarrod Dyson led off the fifth by singling sharply up the middle, then stole second. Cain followed by fisting off a pitch into short right field, plating Dyson and pushing the lead to 3-0.
Greinke punched himself in the stomach angrily after that.
His 97th pitch was clocked at 94 mph on television; Escobar squared it up and rocketed a rope into the right-field corner for an RBI triple that made it 4-0. His 100th pitch was ripped into center by Dyson (again) for another single, this one plating Escobar.
With pitch No. 100, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly pulled the cord, and things got a little testy. Greinke's walk from the mound back to the dugout was accompanied by a cacophony of boos.
"It's been four years; it's been a while," said Greinke, who saw his record dip to 9-4 and his ERA rise from 2.57 to 2.89. "I mean, they've moved on by now and so have I ... at least, team-wise. I don't know. The fans may be different."
Conflicted? Hell, yes, they're conflicted. Greinke was supposed to be the foundation that this thing would be built around, the anchor tenant -- and decided to jump ship instead.
"I mean, I (didn't) want to be rude," the ex-Royals ace said.
"I felt I had to do it in order to get traded, and I wanted to get traded, so ... and I've said all this a dozen times in the past."
And while he wasn't the foundation, the Florida native did, in hindsight, wind up being a catalyst that led to other bricks, important bricks, being laid. Four key pieces here ... two key pieces there ....
Time heals. Winning heals.
"I mean, they're playing good now, aren't they?" Greinke said of his former club. "You knew it was going to take time. And now's the time, it seems like."
After all, isn't living well the best revenge?