What's up with Zack Greinke?

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Zack Greinke frustrated.jpgIt’s the obvious storyline after Friday’s 10-3 loss to the Twins. Greinke allowed four runs — two earned — over five innings while walking five and striking out five. The five walks were the most Greinke had allowed in a start since June 13, 2008.

Through his first three starts this season, Greinke has allowed 10 runs — seven earned — over 17 2/3 innings (3.57 ERA). He didn’t give up his seventh earned run last season until May 26 — in his 10th start of the year. Greinke gave up back-to-back home runs in his last start against the Red Sox. He didn’t give up his first home run last season until June 5 — his 12th start of the season.

Greinke tells Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star that his early ineffectiveness could be due to a failure to execute his game plan:

“I think my mind is just not right on how to pitch,” he said, “because
every game I’ve been able to throw the ball close to where I wanted (to
throw it). I’m just not getting the job done.

“It could be, a
little bit, just not executing the pitches. But I think my game plan has
been wrong. Some of the pitches are not really sharp, but they’re good
enough to where I should, at the very least, be able to pitch deeper
into games.”

I’m confident that Greinke will be just fine moving forward, but it’s no stretch to say that he could be battling two exterior factors right now. One, the pressure to be perfect knowing that his joke of a bullpen could cough up a lead and at any moment. And two, trying to pitch with the knowledge that his start to the ’09 season is an impossibly difficult act to follow.

Must-read: A profile on former Rays prospect Brandon Martin, currently in jail for alleged murders of three men

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Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times has an outstanding profile of former Rays prospect Brandon Martin, who is currently in jail for allegedly murdering three men nearly two years ago.

Fenno describes Martin’s erratic personality as he became a highly-touted baseball prospect who then descends into drug use. Friends described Martin has having completely changed into an unrecognizable person. Martin had repeated conflicts with friends and family such that police reports became common and he was placed in a psychiatric facility. Sadly, the facility only held him for less than 48 hours. He would allegedly murder three people upon returning home: his father, his brother-in-law, and a home security system contractor. Martin fled from police, who eventually caught up to him and subdued him with the help of a police dog.

Fenno’s profile is really worth a read, so click here to check it out.

Martin, 23, was selected by the Rays in the first round (38th overall) of the 2011 draft. He spent three years in the Rays’ system, reaching as high as Single-A Bowling Green.

Pedro Martinez: “If I was pitching, I was going to drill Machado, as much as I love him.”

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On Sunday, Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes was ejected for throwing at Orioles third baseman Manny Machado‘s head. It was revenge for a slide of Machado’s which ended up injuring Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Barnes was suspended four games.

Hall of Famer and former Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez said that if he were in Barnes’ shoes, he would have also thrown at Machado, although not necessarily at his head. Via ESPN’s Scott Lauber:

If I was pitching, I was going to drill Machado, as much as I love him. The only thing I would’ve done differently is probably bring the ball a little bit lower.

Martinez added that Machado “did not intend to hurt Pedroia. And I know that because I know Machado.” And he doesn’t think Barnes meant to throw at Machado’s head.

Martinez, of course, was certainly a pitcher who wasn’t afraid to pitch inside to batters and even hit a few of them when he felt he or his teammates had been wronged. This is an unfortunate part of baseball’s culture and the fact that it continues means that it will eventually result in someone being seriously hurt. It’s disappointing that Martinez isn’t willing to be a better role model now that his playing days are over. Martinez could have set an example for today’s pitchers by saying what Barnes did crossed a line. Getting a Hall of Famer’s seal of approval will only embolden players now when they feel they must defend their teammates’ honor.

The “tradition” of beaning batters to defend one’s teammates is anachronistic in today’s game, especially when Major League Baseball has made strides in so many other ways recently to protect players’ safety.