I'm back in the starting rotation, where I want to be. It was fun getting the experience in the bullpen, but I believe I'm cut out to be a starting pitcher in the long term.
I didn't look at my time in the bullpen as a demotion. There was a time I wanted to be in the bullpen because I thought it would be more fun down there. I always wanted to see what it was like to be a reliever and I got to see a different part of the game. So it was nice. I learned a lot about baseball after being down there for half of the year.
You pay attention to the game more, especially the strategy of the late innings. I realized how important it is for starters to go late in the game, because everyone in the bullpen has their own role. If one pitcher doesn't do his job, every other spot suffers because of it.
In the early part of a game, I would research the opposing hitters a little. Some people might watch the game itself more carefully early on, but usually I checked the scorecard to see who was swinging the bat well. I know most of the hitters by now, so for me, it's more about seeing who's hot and who's not.
It's too early to say if being in the bullpen has changed my approach as a starter. But I hope I'm a better pitcher because of it.
One thing I learned from the veteran relievers is that when you only have one inning, or even one batter, you have to let it all hang out. That helped me focus on using my best stuff from the start instead of "pitching" so much. I trust my stuff more, I guess.
Overall, I've had a lot more fun this year. I enjoy playing baseball again. In fact, I'm probably one of the few people who don't want the season to end. Usually by this time, guys are getting ready for the offseason. But I'm enjoying coming to the park every day. I'll miss it when the season is over.
This last month is important for me too. I want to demonstrate my ability to start, so each chance counts. Every outing could be my last one and I just have to take advantage of the opportunity.
Zack Greinke, the Royals' first round pick in the 2002 First-Year Player Draft, debuted with the club in 2004, but only made three appearances for them in 2006. This season, splitting time between the rotation and the bullpen, Greinke is 6-5 with a 3.99 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 103 2/3 innings pitched.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.