Standing in front of a tightly packed half-moon of reporters Friday night, Zack Greinke professed his adoration for Milwaukee, and his Brewers teammates.
On his way out the door to Anaheim, he also expressed some admiration.
"I'm gonna miss my time here. It was a lot of fun," he said. "Had a great team, a great group of guys, everyone gets along. It was fun to come to the clubhouse. It's probably surprising that everyone could still get along as good when we're not playing good. Where most teams if you're playing good you get along and if you're not playing good you usually aren't getting along. Here, it's a great group of guys."
He would know.
In his seven years in Kansas City, he went 60-67 in 169 starts as the Royals lost 100 games three times and 682 times overall.
In his 49 regular starts with the Brewers over 2011 and 2012, Greinke went 25-9 with a 3.67 earned run average with a 1.201 WHIP and 9.9 strikeouts per nine innings.
"He did about all we could ask for," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said simply.
In looking over his time in Milwaukee, Greinke looked back on the National League Championship run made last fall fondly, but held himself accountable for the 12 earned runs he allowed in 16 2/3 innings in the postseason.
"I mean, I really feel like I could've done a lot more, especially in the playoffs last year," he said. "I guess everyone could do more but I feel like I'm upset with how that worked out. This year, you could always do more it feels like. But we went pretty far and it was a lot of fun. It was definitely the most fun I've ever had playing baseball."
The natural question to Greinke and Melvin was if the Brewers would go after him, and if so, would he consider returning to Milwaukee.
Melvin smiled and said he couldn't talk about a player on another team while Greinke answered sheepishly.
"Yeah," he said, looking down. "I haven't talked about anything going on with free agency. Like I said, I loved it here so it'll definitely be a possibility."
Milwaukee has long heard players express their affection for the team and the city, but only time will tell if the most important attraction – total dollars offered – make him really want to return.
Jim Owczarski is an award-winning sports journalist and comes to Milwaukee by way of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Network.
A three-year Wisconsin resident who has considered Milwaukee a second home for the better part of seven years, he brings to the market experience covering nearly all major and college sports.
To this point in his career, he has been awarded six national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, breaking news and projects. He is also a four-time nominee for the prestigious Peter J. Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, presented by the Chicago Headline Club, and is a two-time winner for Best Sports Story. He has also won numerous other Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association awards.
Jim's career started in earnest as a North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) senior in 2002 when he received a Richter Fellowship to cover the Chicago White Sox in spring training. He was hired by the Naperville Sun in 2003 and moved on to the Aurora Beacon News in 2007 before joining OnMilwaukee.com.
In that time, he has covered the events, news and personalities that make up the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NCAA football, baseball and men's and women's basketball as well as boxing, mixed martial arts and various U.S. Olympic teams.
Golf aficionados who venture into Illinois have also read Jim in GOLF Chicago Magazine as well as the Chicago District Golfer and Illinois Golfer magazines.