Diamondbacks’ Zack Greinke aiming for faster approach to spring training

Feb 15, 2018, 2:07 PM
Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Greinke works against the San Francisco Giants during the first i...
Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Greinke works against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning of a baseball game Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – About 90 minutes into Day 2 of spring training, Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Zack Greinke took the mound at Salt River Fields.

It was his first official bullpen, though he said he had been up on the mound four times previously.

Regardless, seeing Greinke throwing from the mound this early in spring was different, at least compared to last year, when the D-backs slow-played their ace given the extra week of spring training due to the World Baseball Classic.

In other words, Greinke did not need to rush to get ready for the season.

“I’m trying to get ready a little bit faster this year so we’ll see how that goes, but it probably won’t work out that way,” he said. “Just, last year, I felt like I was — it ended up being a good year — playing catch-up a little too much and if things didn’t work out super smooth the end of spring training, I might’ve been a little bit more behind, where this year I’m trying to start early so I don’t have to be lucky to get ready in time.”

Another reason for the different approach this spring, Greinke said, is because he had “a couple of setbacks trying to get ready in the offseason.”

They were small setbacks, according to Greinke, who mentioned getting a rash and traveling more than normal.

“Minor things like that, so (it) just pushed things back a little bit more than usual so trying to catch-up earlier than waiting the whole spring training,” he said. “I don’t want to get into some of it, but they’re nothing, like, long-term, serious issues. It was just small things that during the year you push through and since it’s the offseason you just say, hey, let it just relax a little bit.

But Greinke feels good now, right?

“As good as can be expected,” he said.

However Greinke wants to approach spring training this season is just fine with the D-backs.

“Zack is such a perfectionist and I know that he’s trying to get to that special spot when he’s ready to go, and whatever it takes to get him there, we’re going to support him through that,” manager Torey Lovullo said.

Greinke is coming off a strong 2017 season. He went 17-7 with a 3.20 ERA with 215 strikeouts in 32 starts; numbers that earned him a fourth-place finish in National League Cy Young voting.

In the postseason, however, Greinke struggled. He was hit hard by the Colorado Rockies in the Wild Card game, allowing four runs on six hits in 3.2 innings, and then failed to pitch past the fifth inning in Game 3 of the NLDS, suffering the loss to the L.A. Dodgers.

“The entire body of work last year for Greinke was very successful. He was our No. 1, a true ace, he was a stopper every fifth day, he went out there and gave us a chance to win games,” Lovullo said. “If people want to focus on the two postseason games, that’s just the nature of the beast, and sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.”

Greinke has started Opening Day in each of his first two seasons with the D-backs, yet Lovullo would not commit to Greinke starting the 2018 opener, not yet anyway.

“Nothing is written in stone right now. We’re going to see how the spring plays out,” he said.

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