Greinke welcomed back by Kansas City fans
After just one batter on Tuesday night, Zack Greinke's return to Kauffman Stadium -- the waterfall-laden ballpark that started his career -- wasn't quite going exactly as he would've hoped.
Royals outfielder Alex Gordon had extended the game's very first count to 3-2 when Greinke's next pitch hit Gordon's bat right on the barrel. The sound of the bat gave away the ball's final destination -- the moonshot sailed into the depths of a waterfall in right center field, giving Kansas City a 1-0 lead after one batter.
But as Greinke's season so far has shown, Greinke doesn't make too many mistakes -- evidenced by his 2.96 ERA and strikeouts per nine innings mark in the double digits. And for the rest of his 6-2/3 innings, Greinke didn't make a single costly mistake.
It's easy to chalk that one pitch -- a 3-2 fastball up in the zone -- to jitters, but Greinke and Brewers manager Ron Roenicke denied that any nerves added led to the leadoff round-tripper.
"He was pretty calm," Roenicke said. "Not too many guys get on top of the ball that he threw up there."
"I pitched him really good, got to 3-2," Greinke added. "I didn't want to walk the leadoff guy, so I was like, 'I'll let him hit it,' and he hit it pretty good. I do it all the time, it just worked out for them that time."
Greinke may have been calm on the mound, but he admitted after the game that he wasn't that calm all day. He knew there was something different about this day when he thought about his start this morning.
"When I woke up I was probably a little more excited than usual," Greinke said. "But once I got to the park it was the same."
The Brewers ace came to the park as usual, but things were obviously different. He noticed some Royals fans still wearing his jersey. He chalked it up to a funny coincidence though, noting that fans wore Jeremy Affeldt (a former Royal pitcher) jerseys all over Kauffman Stadium when he pitched there. Still, he said he thought he heard some cheers when his name was announced.
Greinke even got a chance to see his favorite fan out near the bullpen, sitting in the same spot he had been when Greinke played in Kansas City. He said hello to the same fan and went on with his business, striking out eight Royals but still getting a no decision, after the Brewers failed to score more than a single run, losing 2-1.
It wasn't all cheery memories for Greinke though in his post-game conversation with reporters. After Royals first baseman/designated hitter Billy Butler criticized Greinke after the right-hander asked for a trade in 2010, Greinke said he didn't say anything to Butler during the game.
In fact, it didn't sound like he talked to many of his old teammates, and whether there's some animosity still there was a bit unclear. He explained, however, that he doesn't normally like talking to opponents.
"Just because I know someone doesn't mean I'm going to talk to them," Greinke said.
Greinke was told by one reporter that the Kansas City fans would graciously welcome him back if he decided to return to the Royals when he becomes a free agent after this season. Greinke didn't disclose much about his offseason plans, but he did talk about his exit from Kansas City, adding that hearing the fans support him was a positive, in spite of how he left.
"It's nice because I was pretty rude on the way out," Greinke said. "I felt like I had to in order to get out. I didn't want to have to be the bad guy, but I felt like I had to be. . . . The fans were great."
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