Yet Another Tough Spring Training For Zack Greinke

So now it’s Zack Greinke we’re worried about, as evidenced by not one but two Dodgers.com articles about his start against the Giants:

Greinke struggles, reaches pitch limit in 3 2/3 innings:

Dodgers starter Zack Greinke hit his pitch limit after 3 2/3 innings. Two of the four runs Greinke allowed were unearned on an error by left fielder Carl Crawford, who earlier had an RBI single.

Frustrated Greinke self-critical after rough start:

An annoyed Greinke was removed after only 3 2/3 innings Friday night by Dodgers manager Don Mattingly when he reached his 76-pitch limit. Greinke said he felt fine physically, but lacked command with all pitches. Greinke gets one more Spring Training start, tentatively on an extra day of rest Thursday in the Freeway Series against the Angels, although Mattingly hinted there were “other options” that would allow Greinke to start April 7 against the Padres. Greinke was asked if one more start will be enough to start the season.

Dodgers @
Angels
Tempe, Ariz.
SS
Turner
3B
Guerrero
DH
Ethier
C
Grandal
1B
Van Slyke
CF
Pederson
RF
Heisey
LF
Hernandez
2B
Barney

First, the good news: By all indications, this isn’t that Greinke’s elbow is giving him trouble (“Everything feels fine,” he said. “I’m just not pitching that well”), but more that his delayed start to camp due to that “lubricating injection” in February means that he’s a start behind the rest of the rotation. And, as I probably don’t need to tell you, don’t worry at all about the line score, because as noted above, Crawford’s error — on a ball he appeared to have lost in the lights — played a big part in it.

This seems to happen with Greinke every year, anyway. Last year, it was the calf strain and the not wanting to go to Australia and the 5.40 ERA in three starts. The year before, it was the initial elbow scare and the 5.54 ERA in four starts. Clearly, none of that affected him in the regular season.

Which isn’t to say this is all nothing, of course. Mattingly sounded like there was at least some chance that Greinke wouldn’t be ready to start the second game of the season on April 7, though a good outing in the Freeway Series against the Angels next week would alleviate some of that concern. (Or in a minor league game instead, which may be the plan.) Generally, none of this would matter that much, because if he had to skip his first start to get ready for the remaining 31, it wouldn’t be a big deal. But with Hyun-jin Ryu already ticketed for the DL, that becomes a bit more problematic; no one wants to carry Joe Wieland and David Huff from the outset, right?

The logistics of this from a roster management perspective are a bit difficult, and a problem we could all do without. Fortunately, there doesn’t seem to be anything actually wrong with Greinke, just the usual “getting ready for the season” woes that have become increasingly normal for him. So long as we don’t hear of any actual physical problems, file this one in the “things to not worry about that much” pile.

About Mike Petriello

Mike Petriello
Mike writes about lots of baseball in lots of places, and right now that place is MLB.com.