Kansas City Royals: Zack Greinke's Emergence

Marcus MoellerContributor IApril 28, 2008

Kansas City Royals fans have been through a lot: the playoff absence since 1985, several years of barely watchable baseball, one winning season from 1995-2007, the false hope of an 11-1 start in 2003, and the pain of seeing former Royals win World Series with other teams.  

For years, the greatest thing about going to Kauffman to watch a Royals game was the fountains that provide the landscape beyond the center field fence.

Royals pitcher Zack Greinke has been through a lot.

The beginning of the Kansas City Royals relationship with Greinke looked like a fairy tale.  The Royals drafted Greinke with the sixth pick in the 2002 draft and it didn't take long for Greinke to live up to that pick.  

He went 15-4 with a sub-2.00 ERA in the Minor Leagues and took home Sporting News' Minor League Player of the Year Award and made his Major League debut in 2004 against the Oakland A's.

However, the fairy tale ended there for Greinke and the Kansas City Royals.

Greinke finished the 2004 season with 11 losses (second most on the team) and nearly a 4.00 ERA.  But that was nothing compared to the following season.

The righty went 5-17 with a 5.80 ERA in 2005 and questions surrounded Greinke as he entered Spring Training in the 2006 season. Those questions only intensified when he left the team for "personal reasons."  

It was later discovered that Greinke was suffering from social anxiety disorder. When Greinke returned to the organization (three weeks into the season) he was placed in the 60-day DL for psychological issues.  

Greinke spent time away from the game before going to Wichita for his rehab assignments. By the time 2007 rolled around Greinke had re-staked his claim in the rotation with a very successful spring.  

However, the pitcher’s woes continued as he started the year 1-4 with a 5.71 ERA—the organization sent him to the bullpen where he was fairly successful in the bullpen, but everyone in the organization understood that his value was a starter, not a reliever.  

2008 is upon us and again, the Royals talked about Greinke’s great spring training and how he finally has it together, but to Royals fan, it was the same old story and we expected the same old result.  

But then something weird happened, on April 3rd, Greinke made his first start of the 2008 season, won and only gave up one earned run.  

Was this the year?  Is he going to finally realize all of that potential? 

Fast forward three weeks and Greinke is 3-0 with a 1.25 ERA.  Greinke has been in control on the mound. He has worked deep into games (minus the Oakland outing). He has kept hitters off balance. And most importantly, the Royals are 4-1 in games that he starts.

I realize it is early in the year but Greinke has been terrific on the mound.  Royals fans can only hope that the pitcher continues to dominate and that someone can eventually write "and they lived happily ever after" to finish this fairy tale.