It’s good to see Zack Greinke enjoying his new-found celebrity, even in a quiet way.
When Greinke was named American League Pitcher of the Month for April, he was genuinely pleased and happily discussed the honor with reporters. As you know by now, Zack doesn’t court publicity and can get along just fine without it. But he’s been going along with the hubbub with the smoothness of a real pro.
Mike Swanson, the Royals’ PR veep, is watching over Zack so the exposure is limited. He doesn’t like to do talk radio or sit-down TV interviews, much like Randy Johnson whom Swanson handled when both men were with the Diamondbacks.
When it was pointed out that Greinke had the third-lowest ERA, 0.40, of any pitcher that got off to a 6-0 start, the names of the previous two did not throw him off. He knew about Fernando Valenzuela, 6-0 and 0.33 in 1981, and even Walter Johnson, 6-0 and 0.35 in 1913.
“Yeah, he was probably a pretty good pitcher,” Greinke said. “Christy Mathewson was probably my favorite, though. He just seemed more like a pitcher and Walter Johnson was just domination.”
So, you see, Zack has been doing a little reading. He knew Matty was the thinking man’s pitcher. Maybe he read Matty’s book, “Pitching in a Pinch.”
OK, probably not.
But Zack likes to look at the past and gains inspiration from some sports figures.
“In baseball, really just Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens. And then Michael Jordan is probably my favorite of all time. And like Walter Payton,” he said. “I like the hard-working guys or at least they say they’re hard-working. Larry Bird, I just like guys who train all-year round and dedicate themselves to the game.”