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Arizona Diamondbacks RHP Zack Greinke ‘a step closer’ to game action

Arizona Diamondbacks' Zack Greinke throws during spring training baseball workouts, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Almost a full two weeks into spring training and only now has Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Zack Greinke faced hitters.

They were minor league hitters—infielders Dawel Lugo and Jack Reinheimer—but hitters nonetheless as Greinke took the mound for a 20-pitch live batting practice session on Friday at Salt River Fields.

“I felt OK. Everything was coming off of (my) fingers pretty good and it was pretty sharp. Command was OK. Everything was OK,” he said, adding about his pitch count, “I feel pretty good still, so maybe I could’ve thrown a couple of more but no one wants to push it too fast this early. There’s not too much of a need. Maybe it was a good amount.”

According to Greinke, and echoed by manager Torey Lovullo, the plan is for the D-backs ace to up the number of pitches thrown in a yet to be scheduled second live batting practice session, and then go from there.

“I thought he threw the ball very well,” Lovullo said. “Stuff-wise, I’m sure he wouldn’t think it was that perfect, but to me it looked really good. Fastball command looked like it was perfect. Repeating his delivery. Good tempo. I thought it was a pretty good first time him facing live hitters.”

Obviously, with Cactus League play beginning this weekend, Greinke will miss seeing action in the first handful of games, if not more.

Asked when he might make an in-game appearance, Greinke was honest with reporters.

“Maybe when I start feeling I’ll be able to get guys out and not be really bad out there,” he said. “Today, I don’t think I’d be ready to get guys out in a game yet, but definitely a step closer now.”

Greinke continues to work just on the basics: being consistent in his delivery, finding the strike zone and getting comfortable on the mound.

Both he and the D-backs insist he’s healthy, though all parties have agreed to slow-play his progression this spring.

Greinke dealt with a strained left oblique and stiff right shoulder last season, his first with the D-backs after signing a six-year, $206.5 million free-agent contract.

“It’s definitely moving forward,” he said, referring to his pitching. “I’m in a pretty good place right now. If things go smoothly, we’ll easily be ready for the season.”

BASE HITS

— Look for right-hander Shelby Miller to throw two innings, roughly 40 pitches, when he takes the mound in the Cactus League opener on Saturday. The D-backs host their spring training roommates at Salt River Fields, the Colorado Rockies, at 1:10.

“I’m looking forward to going out there and get back to the swing of things,” he said. “We work on throwing bullpens and doing lives (batting practice) and stuff and that all matters, but to get out and face other hitters from other teams and to get back into just competing, it’s going to fun for sure.”

Right-hander Braden Shipley will start on Sunday, again against the Rockies.

— Through the first two weeks of camp consider Lovullo impressed with left-hander Patrick Corbin. It was a frustrating season a year ago for Corbin who went 4-12 with a 5.58 ERA in 24 starts, but he finished 2016 in the bullpen.

Where Corbin begins 2017 — his fifth season with the D-backs — will be determined this spring.

“The only thing I can say about his appearances in the bullpen last year is that it was a catalyst for where he’s at right now,” Lovullo said. “I know that he reluctantly went to the bullpen, from I’ve been told. He regrouped and did his job. We know that it helped him get to where he is at right now. We haven’t gotten any further than point one, and that’s for him to compete as a starter. There’s really no other temptations right now at this point in time.”

— On the injury front, catcher Chris Herrmann (foot) “went through a normal day” according to Lovullo, including taking batting practice. He could play Sunday. Meanwhile, reliever Matt Koch (shoulder) is expected to throw a live batting practice session soon.

— The D-backs will host their third annual high school graduation on Saturday at the team’s academy in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic. Among the team executives expected to take part in the event are managing general partner Ken Kendrick, president/CEO Derrick Hall, general manager Mike Hazen and special assistant to the president Randy Johnson.

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