For all his success between the white lines and now incredible wealth, Diamondbacks’ right-hander Zack Greinke’s mission and approach remains simple. Despite numbers which blow away the baseball world, the road ahead for Grienke in Sedona Red is not much different from his origins of success.
Coming off a 19-3 season in which the 32-year-old complied a 1.66 ERA, Greinke’s feel for the game, now with his fourth major league team, has changed little. Known for strict attention to detail and as a superb student of the game, Greinke has no real secrets for recent success.
In the past three seasons, he compiled 51 wins for an average of 17 per season. His ERA over that period of time is a combined 2.33, and last season in 222.2 innings of work, Greinke allowed only 148 hits.
“I just think about one pitch at a time,” he said on Friday. “If you do that for the season, the results will take care of themselves. Sure, you make adjustments, but you also want to make as few mistakes as possible.”
Quiet and taciturn in his session with the media Friday, Greinke, according to insiders, projects a much different image behind closed doors. Manager Chip Hale told reporters Grienke desires to mentor others, but in speaking with the media, Greinke discounted that approach. Nonetheless, his presence among teammates has sparked anticipation and excitement.
For his part, Greinke seems divorced from the heightened level of optimism surrounding this club, and remains close to his own personal work ethic. At the same time, he recognizes the relevant conversation the Diamondbacks now have within the National League West Division, and added, “there’s good competition in the division with three teams.” The reference here is to the Giants, Dodgers and Diamondbacks, and Greinke indicated he’s ready for the marathon.
If his first bullpen session Friday is any indication, Greinke gave hints to the kinds of things which have been promoted. His attention to detail was evident, his mechanics were crisp and clean, and his level of concentration enhanced.
Known for keeping the ball down in the strike zone and changing speeds, Greinke, who threw for about 10 minutes and 35 pitches, showed an above average fast ball. Throwing to catcher Welington Castillo, he rarely missed the strike zone.
“I was happy the ways things went,” he said in reference to the Friday bullpen session. “The ball was coming out my hand well. The goal is to build up and get stronger each time out. I threw hard and threw strikes, so I was happy.”
If there is one issue facing Greinke coming to a new team is his catcher. Used to working with one catcher, he cited A. J. Ellis with the Dodgers two years ago and Yasmani Grandal with L. A. last season as his mainstays.
“As far as catchers, I’m not sure what (Hale) has in mind,” he said. “I like to throw to one, so I’ll see what happens”
When the season begins, Hale said Castillo will be the Diamondbacks’ number one catcher. While Hale indicated there is no immediate decision on Greinke’s desire to pitch to the same catcher, that pronouncement will likely be made by the end of spring training.
For now, Greinke’s presence has energize his teammates, and created a sense of immediate worth among the players. His impression through the franchise, as well, remains compelling.
“(Greinke) is a true student of the game,” Hale said. “Very intelligent and cerebral about all aspects of the game, including fielding his positon, hitting and base running. He projects well in small groups, and said he wants to mentor players around him.”
Though anointed as the Diamondbacks’ opening day pitcher, Greinke makes little of that assignment. Instead, he merely tells listeners he’s ready to take the ball when Hale calls his name.
“I’m not concerned with that,” he said in reference to starting the season on April 4 in Chase Field against the Rockies. “When it’s my turn to pitch, they’ll let me know. Then, I’ll go out and do the best I can for that day.”
HALE’S OPTION AND MORE
On Thursday night, the Diamondbacks exercised the option on manager Chip Hale’s contract. Originally, Hale signed a two-year deal in October, 2014 with an option for 2017. The Diamondbacks picked up that option.
“Sure, this gives you a little comfort, but in baseball, we all know this business is year-to-year,” Hale said Friday. “I love it here, and have been part of the Diamondbacks organization for a long time.”
In developments Friday, pitcher Daniel Hudson was not in camp. Sidelined with a stomach virus, Hudson was told to stay home. Otherwise, Hale reported, all players are here and no player sustained any injury to this point.