Zack Greinke on social anxiety disorder: 'It never really bothered me on the mound'

Eric Stephen | True Blue LA

Greinke on Friday opened up to reporters about the social anxiety disorder he was diagnosed with in 2006, and how he has moved on with the help of treatment and medication.

Zack Greinke met with reporters on Friday to discuss his social anxiety disorder, a condition the pitcher was diagnosed with in 2006 when he was with the Kansas City Royals. It's not a subject Greinke talks about often, and it's hard to blame him since his disorder was diagnosed over six years ago and has not been affected by it in recent years.

"I don't really think about it ever anymore," Greinke said. "It never really bothered me on the mound."

Greinke said he had the problem since high school, and it only got worse the better he got with baseball. But he didn't know another way.

"The thing that I was always worried about was that went I went home in the offseason I didn't want to be followed around everywhere I go," Greinke said. "When it's all you ever knew, it seems normal I guess."

The anxiety for Greinke came to a head in the spring of 2006, when he left Royals camp. "It was like having anxiety every day," he said.

Greinke said he thought about quitting baseball. That's when Greinke was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder.

"In life you have to do things you don't want to do, but I was raised to do what you enjoy doing, whether you are making several hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, or $30,000 per year," Greinke said. "That was my thought, why am I putting myself through torture when I didn't really want to do it?. I mean, I enjoyed playing but everything else that went with it I didn't."

Greinke still loved playing the game, but despised just about everything else. He said he wanted to show up to a 7 o'clock game that he was starting at 6 o'clock, and never understood why anyone would want to come earlier than that.

But after being prescribed Zoloft, a medication Greinke still takes to this day, the problems have went away.

"It hasn't been hard since I started taking the medicine. I don't know if I got lucky, or what," Greinke said. "I wish I knew about it before. I didn't know there was something for it. I used to read self-help books trying to make myself better."

Manager Don Mattingly had heard the stories of Greinke's disorder before meeting with the free agent in November at Dodger Stadium.

"I didn't know what to expect when we met with him in the winter. But once you meet with him, it felt like a non-issue. It didn't feel like it would be anything that was tough to deal with," Mattingly said. "He was honest and up front with us about it and how he deals with it."

Even though the disorder was treated and has all but been minimized years ago, it still seems to come up when discussing Greinke. Maybe it's because he is different, with his quiet, seemingly disinterested demeanor, and dry monotone delivery when answering questions.

Greinke held a similar one-time media session in spring training in 2011 with Milwaukee after he was traded from the Royals to the Brewers. The disorder is an issue worth exploring and it's probably good to address it once since Greinke is now in a new city with a new team. But now that it has been addressed, maybe we can move on to how much he loves baseball.

"He's out here, talking to guys. This is a baseball junkie. You see him going to minor league games and showing up and going through the system and knowing who the minor league guys are," Mattingly said. "He was talking to us about the guy we drafted. It's pretty amazing, really."

Greinke, though dry, is funny too. In a Steven Wright sort of way. He mentioned not liking the Los Angeles traffic too much, when it was suggested he try to commute via helicopter.

"I looked into it, but I don't think you can land at the stadium," he said without missing a beat.

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