FanFest finale filled with laughs
Greinke, teammates provide entertainment in Kansas City
KANSAS CITY -- So now another side of Zack Greinke is emerging: the laugh-maker.
Greinke, the sometimes reluctant celebrity of Cy Young Award fame, is not exactly a comedian who might solve the NBC late-night situation, but he's got a wry, dry, sly and innocent wit.
That was apparent on Saturday afternoon as Greinke and some of his fellow pitchers went on stage in the closing day of the third Royals FanFest at the Overland Park Convention Center.
Right off the bat, so to speak, master of ceremonies Tim Scott asked Greinke about his skill at -- no, not pitching -- but at World of Warcraft video action.
"I'm getting bad right now because I'm a Warlock and I think they're getting nerfed right now," he said.
But when fellow starters Kyle Davies and Brian Bannister went mum when asked about their Warcraft involvement, Greinke was ready with a revelation.
"Their wives get real mad at them for playing," Greinke said.
And when a boy asked him when he started playing baseball, Greinke recalled how his dad took him out to hit when he was 4 and 6 or 7 years old.
"We went to the elementary school, right outside of the school, so I could show off to all the girls and show them how far I could hit a ball," Greinke said.
Greinke kept the assembled fans sounding like a laugh track on a TV Land sitcom. This wasn't Jay Leno material, but when you're Zack Greinke in Kansas City, you can do no wrong.
There was a bit of news during the session. Gil Meche, for example, followed up on his 2009 injury-plagued season.
"I started off strong and my back caught up with me," Meche said. "Just to clear the air, the shoulder's fine. The whole thing about that was I kind of came back too quick from my back and my shoulder got fatigued."
Like Meche, Davies and Bannister were shut down early by shoulder fatigue and both told the fans that they were fine, too.
Newly signed catcher Jason Kendall joined the seven pitchers on stage and said he'd been studying videotapes of the Royals' staff.
"These guys have the arms to take it to the next level," Kendall declared, prompting cheers.
That's the kind of optimism the fans like to hear.
Mostly, though, they were enthralled by everything that Greinke had to say.
A fan wanted to know what catcher, either past or present, Greinke would want to catch him if he could choose.
"Probably [Miguel] Olivo right now," he said, adding as he glanced at Kendall: "Sorry."
Olivo, who handled almost all of Greinke's starts last year, went into free agency and signed with the Rockies.
"We just had a great bond," Greinke said. "We got along great. He knew what to call for me. It was just a great combination. He came to the field like ready to die that we won the game when I was pitching. He had your back no matter what the situation and I just really enjoyed throwing to him."
One fan asked about the rivalry that Meche and Greinke annually have by measuring their pitching accomplishments. Greinke quickly took it beyond that.
"I used to be the best on Ping-Pong and Gil's no challenge still. He's never beaten me in golf or baskeball," Greinke said. "Kyle's no challenge in golf or basketball or Ping-Pong. But Banny beat me in Ping-Pong -- our games don't match up well and Banny just crushed me."
Bannister joined the fun, sneaking in a comment.
"For the record," Bannister intoned, "Gil's really good in bowling."
Greinke always fancied himself a fine hitter and used to bug his managers about possibly playing shortstop.
"I tried that for like the first seven years of my career, but they wouldn't listen," Greinke said. "Even when I pitched bad, they still wouldn't listen. So, obviously, I must not be as good at it as I think I am."
With that preamble, he mischievously launched into an analysis of the other pitchers' batting skills.
"[Luke] Hochevar is terrible," Greinke said. "Davies swings and misses a lot, but when he hits it, he's really good. Bannister hits line drives at everything, but it's just going to be singles for the most part. And Gil is not good, but he's OK. I'm not quite as good on line drives as Banny and not quite as powerful as Kyle."
A little girl asked Greinke why he has a surfboard standing next to his locker in Kansas City.
"Someone just sent it to me," Greinke said. "I don't know who it was or why. I just don't know how to get it home. I'm sure I could figure out a way to do it, but I don't even want to spend a minute trying to figure it out."
With all this light banter going on, MC Scott wanted to know if Greinke might take over "The Mark Teahen Show," the in-stadium video feature hosted by the longtime Royals player who was traded to the White Sox.
Naw, takes too much time was the response.
"Teahen is just a master at that stuff," Greinke said. "It's unbelievable. I would say that at least 90 percent of the guys would say he was the funniest guy on the team. He doesn't even talk a lot, it's just that everything he says has some humor to it. It's really impressive. He's going to be missed."
Greinke, at least, helped fill that void for a while on stage Saturday.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.