Monday, March 19, 2007

Another Royal you can feel right rooting for

In this age of free agency and cheating, it can be precarious to affix yourself to a particular player. Just think of all the baseball heroes recently revealed as turncoats, bunkos or kooks. Alex Rodriguez said he loved soggy Seattle before bolting for arid Arlington. Jason Giambi was perfect for the Oakland A's before deciding he needed the big city and the big money. Johnny Damon grew a caveman beard and carved his face into the heart of Red Sox Nation before shearing his magical coiffure and in the process shearing their hearts. Mark McGwire probably did steroids. Sammy Sosa is kinda delusional. So on and so forth.

But once in a while, a player comes along who you just know has all the right stuff. Has his head in the right place. Has the support system necessary to thrive. Has the integrity to stay away from banned substances and poor influences and the confidence to rebuff dangerous temptations. These guys you want to latch yourself to because you live vicariously through them -- the decent person who battles immense obstacles to realize a dream.

Adam Greenberg is that player.

His story can be read here in the Kansas City Star, but it's a story that has caught the national eye, too. ESPN hasn't yet posted Bob Holtzman's feature about him online, which ran during tonight's SportsCenter, but I found a roughly accurate transcript of the piece on a Royals message board.

If you don't already know the story, I'll shoot through it quickly: Greenberg, in his only major league at-bat two years ago with the Cubs, was beaned in the head by a fastball. The pitch sent his career spiraling. He returned to the minors, where he suffered from headaches as a result of "positional vertigo" and, more saliently, a terribly shaken confidence. His journey back to The Show began with a homecoming and eventually led him here, with the Royals, where he'll likely begin the season as an outfielder in AA Wichita.

Greenberg, after a year of hard work, is playing baseball at nearly the level he was before the horrific HBP. But more importantly, his confidence has been restored. When asked, "What if you don't make it back?" the 26-year-old replied: "There is no 'don't.' No 'what if',' none of that. I'm going to get back, I'm going to get back with Kansas City and I'm going to help Kansas City win ball games."

There's no way the Royals could do wrong with him in the organization. We're rooting for you, Adam.

UPDATE, 3/22: The ESPN story here.

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