Gregory Owen Zaun (Template:PronEng; born April 14, 1971 in Glendale, California) is a Major League Baseball player with the Toronto Blue Jays. A catcher, his plate-blocking ability and hustle have made him a fan favorite in Toronto.
Drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 17th round of the 1989 Amateur Draft, Zaun reached the majors with the Orioles in June of 1995. Used primarily as a back-up early in his career, he was traded to the Florida Marlins in 1996. After winning a World Series ring with the Marlins in 1997, he moved to the Texas Rangers prior to the 1999 season. He has also played with the Kansas City Royals, Houston Astros, and Colorado Rockies. He signed as a free agent with the Blue Jays prior to the 2004 season.
In 2004, the Blue Jays were the first team to make Zaun, at 33, a starting catcher. Valuable in the line-up as a switch-hitter, he set a career high in 2005 with 133 games, which helped him earn his nickname "Big Jeezy".
Prior to the 2006 season, the Blue Jays signed Bengie Molina as the everyday catcher, making Zaun once again the backup. Zaun started 2006 on on the disabled list, with Jason Phillips serving as Molina's backup during the first week of the year. Zaun hit a game-winning two-run homer off the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' Jason Childers in his return on April 8. Molina's struggles against right-handed pitchers caused John Gibbons to platoon the two, with Molina generally starting against left-handed pitchers and Zaun playing against righties.
Because the Toronto Blue Jays actively pursued Rod Barajas of the Texas Rangers as the club's new starting catcher during the 2006 off-season, it was assumed that Zaun would be exploring free agency as signing Barajas would mean Zaun would be maintained as a backup. Meanwhile, negotiations between Zaun and the club deteriorated, as Zaun claimed that the Jays offered "slightly better than back-up money for playing every day". Negotiations with Barajas went as far as an offer conditional on a routine physical, but eventually fell apart for reasons yet to be disclosed. After turning down a reported $6.5 million two-year offer from the Blue Jays a week earlier, Zaun officially accepted a two-year, $7.25 million contract offer to return to the Toronto Blue Jays as their starting catcher on November 28, 2006. The new contract deal also included a 3rd year option, guaranteed based on appearances. The signing came after Zaun was rumoured to have been courted by the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, both in backup roles.
Gregg Zaun started his broadcasting career after the Blue Jays closed out their 2006 season. Throughout the playoffs, Zaun would offer his thoughts on how the teams and players were doing, and how he thought they could improve. He worked alongside Jamie Campbell on Rogers Sportsnet. During the 2007 season, he continued his work in the booth on his off days or before the game. After the season, he continued to share his thoughts with the viewers.
In the December 2007 Mitchell Report on performance enhancing drugs in baseball, Zaun was accused of having used the steroids Deca-Durabolin and Winstrol. Zaun allegedly purchased the drugs as a member of the Kansas City Royals from known steroid dealer Kirk Radomski; a check from Zaun to Radomski is provided as evidence in the report. As well, according to the report, former bullpen catcher Luis Perez revealed to MLB investigators that he has supplied anabolic steroids to Zaun. Zaun refused to meet with Mitchell to discuss the allegations, and has publicly denied them, claiming that he owed a teammate money and sent a blank check, which was later used to buy steroids.
- Zaun is the nephew of former catcher Rick Dempsey.
- His walking-to-the-plate music is "Limelight" by Rush (whose frontman, Geddy Lee, is a regular attendee at Blue Jays games.)
- On September 13, 2006, he hit home runs from both sides of the plate in the same game. He is only the 4th Blue Jay in history to do this.
- Zaun was a high school teammate of Mark Loretta of the Houston Astros. Gregg and Mark attended Saint Francis High School in La Cañada, California and graduated in 1989.
- Zaun was named in the 2007 Mitchell Report as a steroid user.