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Arizona Diamondbacks: Grienke feels he will be ready for opening day

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Mar 8, 2017; Salt River Pima-Maricopa, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Greinke throws in the first inning against Mexico during a 2017 World Baseball Classic exhibition game at Salt River Fields. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 8, 2017; Salt River Pima-Maricopa, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Greinke throws in the first inning against Mexico during a 2017 World Baseball Classic exhibition game at Salt River Fields. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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Right-hander Zack Greinke of the Arizona Diamondbacks wants one more start to prepare for the opener.

After his outing, Thursday afternoon, right-hander Zack Greinke of the Arizona Diamondbacks appeared ready for his opening day start. One more outing to refine and go deep into games will set Greinke on a direct path to Chase Field on April 2.

That’s when the Diamondbacks get things going for real, and Grienke has the key to the kingdom. Gradually building his pitch count and working with three veteran catchers, Greinke appears on pace to pick up his credibility as the Diamondbacks’ ace. Whether his production and acumen can keep pace with his reputation is the key question.

This spring, there have been questions regarding velocity on his fastball and pitches which tend to be elevated. If those issues were pressing, Greinke showed no sign of such malady in his next-to-last spring start Thursday against the Chicago Cubs, the defending World Series champions.

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In this one, Greinke’s fastball seem to have more movement and his control, up and down and around the plate, appeared more precise. For five innings plus two batters, Greinke allowed six hits, three runs, walked two and fanned four hitters. His pitch count at 83 (55 strikes) was the highest of the spring. Afterward, Greinke told Venom Strikes that he would like one more similar outing before he opens the season.

"I felt strong and thought that was the highest percentage in execution of pitches. It would be nice to have one more outing like this one."

With the season fast approaching, Greinke is slated for one more start this spring. That would be next Tuesday against the Seattle Mariners in Peoria and then the curtain-raiser.

All spring, the Diamondbacks’ organization left Greinke alone and allowed for preparation on his terms. To be on target for April 2, the Diamondbacks held Greinke back in his first start of the spring and counted backward from opening day. At this point, one more spring start should firmly affix the blinders and place Greinke within his zone to attack the Giants.

Back in the clubhouse

First baseman Paul Goldschmidt arrived back in Phoenix Thursday from participating in the World Baseball Classic. Manager Torey Lovullo told Venom Strikes that Goldschmidt is expected back in the lineup on Friday.

Goldschmidt managed to play in only five games and went 1-for-13. That’s an .077 batting average, but Lovullo told Venom Strikes there is no concern.

"We would have like more at-bats but I’m not worried. He was doing something very special for his country."

In the trainer’s room

Centerfielder A. J. Pollock is expected to be back in the lineup against the Dodgers on Friday. Pollock has been out since March 12 with a groin injury.

Left-fielder Yasmany Tomas took batting practice against live pitching before Thursday’s game. Lovullo told Venom Strikes that if Tomas has another pain-free day on Friday, he would be back in the line-up for the next few days. If that happens, Lovullo added, Tomas should start the season opener April 2 against the San Francisco Giants at Chase Field.

Show me the numbers

A crowd of 14.002 Thursday showed up for a contest with the Cubs and set a single-game attendance mark for Salt River. The previous record was set earlier this spring when 13,621 attended a game against the San Francisco Giants on March 11,

Next

Lefty Andrew Chafin will get the start Friday against the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch in Glendale. Right-hander Trevor Oaks will start for L. A.

While this is Patrick Corbin’s turn, Lovullo wants to keep Corbin away from National League West Division opponents. For that reason, Corbin will pitch in a minor-league game Friday and share mound duties with Randall Delgado.

Next: Corbin on track to join rotation

On Saturday in Tempe against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, right-hander Taijuan Walker will start for Arizona, and draws former Diamondbacks’ lefty Tyler Skaggs as his mound opponent.

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