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Greinke’s early exit leaves hopeful D-backs prospects with dampened opportunity

GLENDALE, Ariz. — As a rule of thumb, if you’re a non-roster invitee in spring training, you’re going to face a bunch of other non-roster invitees when you get playing time in exhibition games.

But there are some exceptions to that rule.

One such exception comes on split-squad days, when your team chooses to make a not-so-even split, sending all of its projected starters to one game and a handful of backups plus a slew of minor leaguers to another. Then you can face a non-non-roster invitee.

Such was the case when the Arizona Diamondbacks sent bench coach Alan Trammell, Randall Delgado, Cliff Pennington, Chris Owings, Tuffy Gosewisch, Matt Tuiasosopo, Tony Campana and a bunch of lower-level players out to Camelback Ranch to face the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday. They were to face Zack Greinke, Andre Ethier, Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig, among others.

“They’re coming here with absolutely nothing to lose,” said Single-A Hillsboro hitting coach Mark Grace, who was among Trammell’s staff in Glendale

“Everybody’s expecting them to make a couple of outs. If that happens, OK. But why not have an attitude of, ‘Man, I’m going to do something special. I’m going to do something to make people notice me. I’m going to do something to make my teammates notice me, to make my coaching staff notice me, to make Zack Greinke notice me.'”

Unfortunately, no one really noticed those under Grace’s tutelage.

Following a leadoff flyout from Campana and a pair of pitches to Pennington, the opportunity Grace spoke of pregame had been pried from the hands of prospects like third baseman Jake Lamb. Three pitches — all thrown to guys with plenty of big league at-bats — and Greinke was out with a calf injury.

Chris Withrow took the mound for the Dodgers.

What came thereafter would be taken with a grain of salt.

Though Withrow was a top prospect in the Dodgers’ system who made 26 relief appearances last season, he was hardly the opponent that Greinke was.

Nevertheless, Lamb and Duncan each managed a hit. Duncan’s was for extra bases and drove Lamb in.

But the loss of a worthy foe became the story prospects “with nothing to lose,” as Grace said, were aiming to make. And Delgado, who tackled a big league Dodgers lineup with relative ease, was another.

The 24-year-old right-hander, who is in limbo with the Diamondbacks — currently out of demotion options and seemingly out of contention for a spot in the team’s starting rotation — retired 11 of the 15 Dodgers batters he faced, allowing just one run while striking out two and walking none.

“There’s a lot of young men right now who would like to have the misfortune of facing Zack Greinke today,” Grace said in the Diamondbacks dugout before the game. “There are millions of young men their age that would love the opportunity to go 0-for-2 against Zack Greinke.”

A mixture of Withrow, Red Patterson, Sam Demel, Daniel Moskos, Pedro Baez, Jarret Martin and Carlos Frias were seen, instead.