Zack Greinke of the Arizona Diamondbacks is on target to open the season on April 2
At this point in spring training, no one is looking at results, and that’s least of all right-hander Zack Greinke of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Still heralded as one of the premier pitchers in the game, Greinke’s every move is closely watched, and whether such movement translates into success
That includes nearly every pitch in these spring games, and the assembled media seem to hold its collective breath on each stride. So when Greinke told Venom Strikes on Wednesday and his second session of the spring was better than his first, results on the field become superfluous.
In facing Team Mexico, in its preparation for the World Baseball Classic, Greinke was on the usual pitch count (49 for the game, 36 for strikes) and came away satisfied. Despite yielding two first-inning runs and falling behind early, Greinke indicated to Venom Strikes his outing was productive.
"I felt I executed my pitches better. Each time out you want to get better, but for the second time, I thought things went better than the first time. At this point, I don’t expect any issue but to be ready."
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The reference is to opening day and already, manager Torey Lovullo said Greinke, who won the American League Cy Young Award pitching for the Kansas City Royals in 2009, will open the season at Chase Field on April 2 against the San Francisco Giants.
For now, it’s a wait-and-see period. With less than one month remaining before the bell rings, pitchers are out to improve their pitch count, build strength and provide for longevity. For Greinke, this is a period to refine skills, increase the velocity on his fastball and, as he told Venom Strikes, “command both sides of the plate.”
For the most part, pitchers set benchmarks for the season ahead. While the obvious goal is to win as many as possible, the barometer of around 33 starts and 200 innings are worthy. Greinke pointed out to Venom Strikes these goals are achievable
"Most pitchers will set those goals. A few things have to be good for that to happen."
Health would be a major consideration, and Greinke landed on the 15-day disabled list from July 3 to August 9 last season with a strained left oblique.
On the diamond
Reserve catcher Josh Thole slammed a three-run homer in the eighth inning to solidify a 10-4 victory over Team Mexico before 6,391 at Salt River. Greinke picked up the win and Braden Shipley, in relief, turned in 2.1 innings of shutout baseball.
Outfielder Socrates Brito fractured his right index finger sliding into second base in the game against Team Mexico. Undergoing immediate treatment, manager Torey Lovullo told Venom Strikes there was no medical update following the game. After Brito is fully evaluated, there will be additional information.
Brito injured his hand with a head-first slide into second base, and that’s something which Lovullo does not want. He explained to Venom Strikes that his coaching staff stresses feet-first into the bag.
"(Brito) was trying to be aggressive, and I get that. We’re trying to avoid these kinds of injures by asking players to slide feet-first."
The spring slate resumes Thursday for the Diamondbacks at Camelback Ranch against the Chicago White Sox. Left-hander Patrick Corbin gets the ball for Arizona, and his opponent is to be determined.
On Friday, it’s back to Salt River and an encounter with the Milwaukee Brewers. Taijuan Walker, sparkling in his first two spring outings, takes the mound for Arizona and draws former Diamondback righty Chase Anderson as his mound opponent.