Trailing only Justin Verlander among active pitchers in career victories (223), Royals veteran Zack Greinke has gained a reputation as one of baseball’s quirkiest characters, emerging as a locker-room favorite nearly everywhere he’s played, offering takes on everything from trash collectors (“They should get paid a lot more money”) to the trustworthiness of cat owners.
“He’s the best,” Nicky Lopez said of Greinke, now in his second stint with Kansas City. “I was on the bench with him and we were facing someone who really liked cats. I was like, ‘You can’t trust anyone who likes cats.’ He goes, ‘Yeah, man, you really can’t.’ I go, ‘I like dogs. You got any, Zack?’ He goes, ‘Nah, I would never get dogs. I’ve got a cat, though.’”
Jayson Jenks and Alec Lewis recently chronicled Greinke for The Athletic, compiling quotes from teammates who have grown accustomed to the 38-year-old’s bluntness and wonderfully bizarre sense of humor. An accomplished golfer, Greinke will often travel with his clubs, practicing by chipping into a hotel mattress.
“He goes, ‘Do any of you guys golf?’” said Brady Singer, recalling a time when Greinke hosted members of the Royals’ pitching staff at his home earlier this year. “We’re like, ‘Yeah, we all golf.’ He’s like, ‘What [handicap] are you?’ I’m like, ‘Oh, a 12, somewhere around there.’ He goes, ‘Yeah, you’ll never play with me.’”
Greinke has also been known to lowball teammates in fantasy football, where the six-time All-Star made the curious choice to draft both Josh Allen and Justin Herbert in a one-quarterback league. “I’ve got Russell Wilson at quarterback, but he offered me a quarterback, his fourth-best receiver and fifth-best running back for my first or second receiver,” said catcher Cam Gallagher, who receives daily trade offers from Greinke, each more lopsided than the next. “I go, ‘What are you doing?’ He goes, ‘What? The quarterback will score more points.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, but you can only start one a week.’”
The former Cy Young winner has told teammates he plans to build a baseball academy on 3,000 acres in Hawaii and once summoned pitching coach Cal Eldred to the mound during a game, simply because he needed a “break.” “We were all sitting around and it was a bunch of young guys who just got called up. I go, ‘I’ll give $100 to whoever guesses [what college] Zack committed to,’” said Lopez. “Someone said Creighton or another university and he looked at them and goes, ‘I was the four-time Gatorade Player of the Year. Do you think I would ever go there?’”
When asked if he collects anything, Greinke responded, “[I’ve] got a bunch of houses.” Should anyone get hungry, Greinke has a “guy” for that, a driver on call to deliver whatever food he or his teammates might be craving. “I said I’d Uber Eats something. He goes, ‘No, no, no. I’ve got a guy.’ So he texted the guy and here comes all this food,” said Singer. “He said he’d received an order from Uber Eats and he liked the guy and he said, ‘Hey, can I hire you to just be my Uber Eats driver?’ So he has his own Uber Eats driver. He has his own food guy.”
Greinke may not be having his best season statistically (4-9, 4.21 ERA across 24 starts), though it looks like he’s having a blast, endearing himself to teammates and fans alike with his eccentric personality and ability to make even the mundane seem entertaining.