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Diamondbacks ace Zack Greinke ‘OK’ with his Cactus League debut

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – It was “OK.”

That’s how Arizona Diamondbacks starter Zack Greinke described his Cactus League-debut, a near two-inning outing at Salt River Fields on Sunday afternoon.

The D-backs lost to the Colorado Rockies, 5-1, in front of an announced crowd of 8,370. Designated hitter Christian Walker drove in the one run, hitting a solo homer in the sixth inning.

Greinke pitched 1.2 innings, allowing one run on three hits.

“It felt alright,” he said. “Just keeping it simple as possible. Not worrying about runners. Trying to just pitch OK. It’s definitely not ready for the season, but it was OK.”

Simple, Greinke explained, in that he didn’t try to hold any runners on base.

“I just didn’t think it was that important right now,” he said. “Just let that happen later on in spring and just focus on trying to make decent pitches. Like I said, it went alright. It definitely wasn’t perfect, but it was OK.”

Greinke added he would’ve preferred to have pitched out of the windup the entire time he was on the mound. His focus, he said, was just making quality pitches.

Greinke threw 29 pitches, 21 for strikes, including four first-pitch strikes. Twice he reached 90 mph on his fastball, topping out at 90.7 mph.

“There was not many quality strikes but there was a lot of strikes,” he said.

Each of the three hits Greinke allowed were singles. All three were sharply hit through the infield.

“I think it’s typical first outing for him, much as it is (for) everybody that’s just stepping up there for the first time,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “I thought it was just a really solid outing, did exactly what we wanted him to do.”

In the first inning, Greinke worked around a pair of one-out singles — center fielder Christian Yelich got one past Chris Owings at second base and right fielder Domingo Santana put a ball through the left-side hole — by getting third baseman Travis Shaw to fly out and designated hitter Lorenzo Cain to ground out.

Cain hit Greinke’s 17th pitch of the inning up the third base line that Kristopher Negron was forced to backhand before throwing across the diamond for the third out.

In the second inning, Greinke recorded two quick outs and then allowed a single to Jett Bandy, who would be his eighth and final batter faced.

Bandy would later come around to score when left fielder Hernan Perez ripped a two-run double off reliever Audrey Acevedo over the head of Yasmany Tomas in left field.

“My stuff is further along but my command is farther away. That’s what I’m thinking at the moment,” Greinke said when asked to compare this start with his first spring-training start from a year ago, which didn’t happen until March 3.

“I was happy with how today went so I guess that’s the most important thing. I can fine-tune some of those things going on from now on. Just where I’m at right now, it should be fixable and should be able to make some adjustments in the coming starts.”


— The D-backs’ three new additions — outfielders Steven Souza Jr. and Jarrod Dyson plus pitching prospect Taylor Widener — will all make their Cactus League debuts this week, according to Lovullo.

Souza Jr. will be in the lineup on Wednesday when the D-back host the Rockies. Dyson will debut Friday against the Rockies, and Widener is scheduled to throw Tuesday in a game against the Giants in Scottsdale.

“That is assuming we don’t have rain or any other setbacks, but everything is going in a very, very positive direction for them,” Lovullo said.

— On Monday, it will be left-hander Robbie Ray’s first start of the spring. He’s due to pitch against the Reds in Goodyear, while right-hander Braden Shipley starts the D-backs’ afternoon matchup with the Rockies at Salt River Fields.

“Certain obvious reasons,” Lovullo said of why the D-backs are choosing to have Ray avoid facing NL West rival-Colorado.

“As every team does — it’s not a secret — we try to limit the exposure. We feel like no matter where Robbie throws he’s going to go and throw his gameplan, and it’s going to be a great challenge for him in Goodyear tomorrow. It just made sense for us to limit the exposure so when we can, we’re going to choose that path.”

— Team president Derrick Hall and general manager Mike Hazen were among a large contingent of D-backs employees to attend a celebration of life for former GM Kevin Towers in San Diego on Sunday.

The Towers family and the San Diego Padres hosted the event at Petco Park.