Los Angeles Dodgers’ Zach Grinker says he’s out of anxiety
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Anxiety has ruled Zack Greinke since before high school, eating into him and leaving him feeling unable to escape his fear.
That fear has intensified as attention has grown for the star pitcher, which peaked when he left baseball seven years ago.
Now? It had almost no effect on his psyche.
Anxiety was there, of course, and probably always will be, lurking in his mind. It’s no longer an all-encompassing feeling.
Even as he prepares to pitch for the Los Angeles Dodgers, one of baseball’s most recognizable franchises in one of America’s largest population centers, Glick can avoid anxiety.
“I didn’t think about it at all. I wouldn’t feel pressured about it,” Greink said Friday at the Dodgers’ spring training facility. “It was just a problem before, but not now. I believe it could be somewhere in the future, but it doesn’t affect me.”
When he left the Kansas City Royals for social anxiety treatment during spring training in 2006, Greink made his debut in professional baseball, and his anxiety grew.
He’s gone almost forever.
Growing up, Greinke was taught to do what he wanted, so when anxiety made playing baseball a chore, he took the lesson to the extreme by finding an outlet for the game that made him famous.
“That’s what I thought: Why put myself through torture when I really don’t want to?” he said. “I like to play, but I don’t like anything else, so I thought, I’m going to do what I want to do, I’m passionate, and that’s my thought process when I leave.”
Greinke did come back, though, and was back in the majors by September. Three years later, he turned himself into one of baseball’s most dominant pitchers, winning the 2009 AL Cy Young Award.
After a so-so 2010 season, Greink was traded to Milwaukee and spent two seasons with the Brewers before signing a six-year, six-year deal with the free-spending Dodgers this offseason. A $147 million contract.
Greink successfully managed his rise in fame and the attention that came with it by taking Zoloft, an antidepressant used by millions. It worked well except for a brief period in 2007 when he changed his medication schedule and had some problems.
“It wasn’t that hard when I got the medicine,” Greinke said. “Medications are the best thing ever. I’m probably lucky and found the right fit. My only problem is that it makes me a little tired, but not really. That’s my only complaint. I know it’s not always It’s that easy, but it’s true for me. I’m lucky.”
Greinke still doesn’t like the reputation he has earned for being good at throwing baseballs.
He is naturally reticent and will carry out his media duties, but rarely does more than he has to. Fans want to talk to him? That’s fine, but his preference is that they don’t.
The same goes for teammates. If someone wants to have a real conversation, he can have a real conversation, but doesn’t want to talk just for the sake of talking.
“I love learning stuff, but I don’t want to say nothing or say nothing,” he said. “If it’s something important, I’m okay with it, but if it’s hey Zach, how was your day? ‘I’m having a good time.'” That would be my answer. I don’t know how it got deeper. Someone asks this question and they actually tell them how their day is going, what the hell is going on? I’m not interested.
Greinke’s past anxiety issues and his reserved personality have never been an issue for the Dodgers.
“When we saw him in the winter, I really didn’t know what was going to happen,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “Once we met him, it really wasn’t an issue. He was frank about the issues and how he handled them. It never became a real concern for us.”
Spring training is still in the early stages, but Greink seems to be adjusting to his new team.
On Friday, he sat in front of the locker chatting with a few teammates who came over. He also showcased who he is as a baseball fan, talking to Mattingly about the players in the organization and the team’s recent draft.
“It needs all types, it does,” Mattingly said. “Some people will be fun, some people will be loud, some people will be quiet. Just different people. Matt Kemp will be different from Carl Crawford, but it takes all types to build a club. Really, when You’re starting to take this guy seriously, is he ready, is he a good teammate?
Greinke entered the race and was ready. Now he’s also better able to handle everything that comes with it.
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