Post-game interview with Zack Greinke

On Monday evening, Zack Greinke took a huge step forward in his quest to return to the KC rotation. In his sixth start for the Wranglers, Greinke dominated the Springfield Cardinals, tossing a two-hit complete game victory while striking out 12 Redbirds. After the game, RC's Kevin Agee caught up with Greinke to ask him about the game, and how Greinke feels he's progressing this season.

Royals Corner: Yesterday, you said that your last outing was probably your best. I'm guessing this one trumps it, right?

Zack Greinke: Yeah, this one was probably my best [outing] ever besides maybe high school, but these hitters are way, way better than the high school hitters. I pitched really good. We got the lead, so I could keep attacking guys. With the pitch counts nowadays, you need to be able to attack the hitters. With the extra runs, it allowed me to not have to worry about an easy hit here and there. It allowed me to get ahead. I didn't have to paint. I could just throw it over the plate and let them hit it. When I was doing that, they [my defense] made three great plays, and that saved my pitch count. So I pitched really good, but I couldn't have done it without those plays.

RC: Your defense played so well behind you. Alex Gordon made a spectacular play at third base, and things like that have to help your mindset and help you work quickly.

ZG: His [Gordon's] and Murph's [Donnie Murphy] were both equally great. I mean, they were both Web Gems. And then I made a play I shouldn't have made. Just somehow, a groundball ended up in my glove. [Angel] Sanchez made a nice play. He made it look real easy, but it was a nice play.

RC: In the 9th inning, you ran into a little bit of trouble. A couple of guys got on base, but you ended that inning so strongly by striking out the side. Did you make any adjustments during that inning after you got into the jam?

ZG: The first two hitters [of the ninth inning], I still felt like I had my stuff. The first guy just battled really good. I made a bunch of good pitches to him, but he battled and worked a walk. I made a good pitch to the second guy that was almost exactly where I wanted. I wanted to get a groundball for a double play, but he got a broken bat triple. After that, I was really, really tired. My arm was just done, and I don't think I could've made 15 more quality pitches. So I just started flipping balls over to get two strikes and then hoped I had enough to give them one more quality pitch and hoped that they'd put one of the first ones in play. Luckily, it worked. Sometimes it doesn't. Usually when I do that it'll work for an inning or two, but if I start flipping balls up for longer than that, they'll start smokin' em. They'll realize what's going on.

RC: Since rejoining the team, have you had to make any adjustments to your pitching style to shake off the rust?

ZG: That's more from last year. I did a bunch of things that I wasn't used to, and it took me until my last outing to get back to where I wanted to be which was to throw strikes and get ahead with my fastball and then mess around with them once I get ahead. I didn't think today was going to be the day, but I got real sick a couple of days ago and I think that helps because you get real in-tune with your body. That got me focused. It got my body focused, so I didn't try to overdo anything. It allowed me to pitch how I used to pitch, where I throw about 90% and try to throw where I want and mix in a good pitch every now and then.

RC: Are there any pitches you're still struggling to get over the plate consistently?

ZG: This was the first time my slider's been good all year. I didn't throw but maybe a couple of strikes with it. I wanted to throw it a little off the plate and hope they swing at it, but if not, I would just take the chance, I didn't want to throw it for a strike. My curveball, sometimes it'd be right and sometimes I just wouldn't snap it enough and it wouldn't spin right, so sometimes I didn't throw my curveball the way I wanted to.

RC: When you came back, how were you received by your teammates?

ZG: Well, I still haven't been back to the teammates I've been playing with in Kansas City. I talked to a couple of them, they don't have any hard feelings, but I've talked to a lot of the guys on the team that haven't had hard feelings. I'm pretty much on this team now, and that's usually how it is. You're buddies with the [players on] the team you're on. I had best friends on my A-ball team that I don't keep in contact with anymore, so as soon as you're not on the team, you're not on the team. And if you're on the team, you're usually welcomed until you prove otherwise. I might have proved not welcome, but if and when I got back, hopefully it won't be bad, but I don't know for sure what will happen. I haven't heard anything negative from any of the guys, but I would understand it if there was.

RC: Are you anxious to get back to Kansas City, or are you content with Wichita for the time being?

ZG: I want to be back there, but I want to be back if I'm pitching good, which is the only way I would be back. I do want to be back in Kansas City and doing what I can. My first step was to try to get mentally right, and I don't know if I'll ever be mentally right, but I'll try and I'll get as close as I can. And then I was hoping the pitching would fall into place, and today was my only really good outing of the year, so it's nothing to get too excited about. If I can continue to make good starts, quality starts, then I would think it's time to go.

RC: What's the biggest thing you need to work on?

ZG: Consistency. That's what I was doing pretty much after every inning today was, uh, okay, that was a good inning. Let's make another good inning. Don't change things, just keep doin' what you're doin'. It's a lot easier said than done, but I just have to keep telling myself that. Go out, get ready, make your pitch. That was pretty much my main focus today: make your pitch, stay focused throughout the whole thing. It's easy when all the breaks are going your way. We got a good lead, and we got some amazing plays, and Springfield actually is a really good team. They're one of the best teams in the league.

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