Diamondbacks’ right-hander Zack Greinke has crossed all the “t’s” and dotted the “i’s.” Now, he’s ready for The Show.
Greinke prepared for his first start of the season, Opening Day next Monday night in Chase Field against the Colorado Rockies, by pitching into the fourth inning of a minor league game Tuesday afternoon. Afterward, he told reporters he felt fine physically, and ready to roll. At this point, Greinke has one more bullpen session, likely Friday or Saturday, and then regular season game preparation. Greinke was held out of the regular major league game against the Rockies because he’s scheduled to start against Colorado in the opener.
Known for his meticulous preparation and uncanny attention to detail, Greinke leaves Salt River ready for the task ahead. While he dismissed the limelight, glitter and the player introductions which comes with the opening day assignment, Greinke said there’s not much else to address.
“Feel good, and resting up for the season,” Greinke said after his outing Tuesday. “Fast ball was good, curve was good, and health-wise, I feel great.”
With no additional refinements or tweaks between now and opening day, Greinke appears as ready as any opening day starter. Coming off a 19-3 season, 1.66 ERA in 32 starts with the Dodgers last season, and a year which he said earlier in spring training would be difficult to replicate, Greinke’s preparation is right on target.
Outfielder A. J. Pollock, recovering from a sore elbow, faced Greinke four times in the minor league game Tuesday, and came away impressed. Picking up a single to left and another single which fell in front of the center-fielder, Pollock said he felt fine and ready to start the season at Chase Field. Plus, facing Greinke Tuesday was more than adequate preparation.
“I had four at-bats against (Grienke), and it felt like 40,” Pollack said. “He is such a dynamic pitcher, and consistently hits his spots. It was good to face a pitcher like, and I felt competitive against him.”
For Pollock, the recovery from that sore right elbow has taken longer. Asked if he would be ready to start the season this Monday night, he unmistakably said, “yes.” The mechanics are in place, he noted, and has the green light. Manager Chip Hale indicated that if Pollock tells him he’s ready for Monday night, then Pollock’s name will be penciled in the line-up.
“Timing is not an issue,” Pollock said. “We have the best training staff in the baseball, and they did a great job. With those guys, I’m definitely in a good spot.”
Earlier in spring training, Hale said he would like Pollock to get around 35 at-bats before making a judgment on his playing status. With four pre-season games remaining, it’s doubtful Pollock will reach that number. Yet, he could be ready for the season opener with quality at-bats in games this Friday night and Saturday in Chase Field against the Kansas City Royals.
“I have to trust him that he’ll be ready,” Hale said of Pollock. He’s gaining more confidence every day, and we want him just to feel good”
With Greinke on the mound and Pollock in center, this gives the Diamondbacks a significant part of the needed equation for success. Baseball gods like to think if a team is strong down the middle, catcher, shortstop, second and center-field, that represents an essential component of winning. Add a pitcher like Greinke, and the odds for success tend to increase expediently.
A ROSTER MOVE
Earlier this week, the Diamondbacks optioned left-hander Matt Reynolds to AAA Reno. On Tuesday, they gave the 31-year-old his unconditional release. In 213 games with Colorado and Arizona, Reynolds went 5-5, a 3.66 ERA and recorded two saves at the major league level.
On Wednesday, the Diamondbacks bus over to Mesa for a 12:05 p.m. game with Oakland. The Diamondbacks send righty Shelby Miller to the hill, and the A’s will counter with left-hander Rich Hill.
For Thursday, lefty Patrick Corbin will not face the Rockies at Salt River (12:05 p.m.) in his regular turn. Because he will face the Rox in his first start of the season next Wednesday afternoon in Chase Field, Corbin will take his turn in a minor league game. In the major league game, the Diamondbacks will start righty Braden Shipley, a first round pick in the 2013 draft, and Colorado is scheduled to pitch lefty Chris Rusin.
After the game at Salt River on Thursday, the Diamondbacks break camp. They conclude their pre-season schedule with two games at Chase Field against the defending world champion Kansas City Royals.
On Friday night, righty Rubby De La Rosa opposes righty Chris Young at 6:40 p.m. For Saturday’s 12:10 start, look for lefty Robbie Ray to take the hill against Royals righty Yordano Ventura.