ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

D-backs’ Zack Greinke focusing on secondary pitches earlier than normal

Mar 7, 2019, 5:49 PM | Updated: Mar 8, 2019, 7:42 am
Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Zack Greinke adjusts his cap after loading the bases with Cle...

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Zack Greinke adjusts his cap after loading the bases with Cleveland Indians in the second inning of a spring training baseball game Thursday, March 7, 2019, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — It’s early in the season for Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Greinke to be throwing this many off-speed pitches.

He only pitched two innings in the 4-3 loss Thursday to the Cleveland Indians, but his reliance on secondary pitches helped him get escape without any damage. Eight of his final 11 pitches were off-speed.

“Usually I’m working on something the first couple of outings more so than this year and then don’t even really focus on the off-speed,” Greinke said. “This year, I focused on it a little earlier than normal, maybe.”

This time last year, after missing time early due to injury, Greinke was still trying to find his velocity.

On March 8, 2018, his fastball ranged between 84-86.

On Thursday, it was around 88-90, a more typical Greinke number.

“For the first couple outings last year I know he was working on fastball command and letting that velocity creep up,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “If he’s telling you that he’s working on the secondary pitches I feel like that’s a good sign because he doesn’t need to work on the fastball location.”

Despite that, Greinke couldn’t spot the fastball well Thursday. His secondary pitches got him out of multiple jams.

In the first inning, there were two runners on with two outs and a 2-1 count. Greinke threw a slider for strike two. He returned to the fastball twice – one was fouled off, one was a ball – before going back to the slider. He got the K.

Early in the second inning, Greinke started an at-bat three straight fastballs for three balls. He then threw a slider and a pair of changeups to get the count full.

But then he went back to the fastball and walked the hitter.

With the bases loaded in that second inning, there was a mound visit. He then went almost entirely off-speed to center fielder Leonys Martin and second baseman Jason Kipnis afterward, striking them both out with a mix of changeups and sliders, and one first-pitch curveball to Kipnis that Greinke dropped in the zone.

“(I) just want to get all my pitches working and then go from there,” Greinke said. “So far, I mean, nothing’s perfect, but they all are usable.”

That pitch count of 48 limited him to just two innings and then he threw more in the bullpen afterward.

“It was all just fine, it just wasn’t amazing,” Greinke said. “If the season started next start I wouldn’t be real excited about that but for this part of spring, it was probably about normal. I’m not upset with where it’s at at the moment.”

D-backs vs. Indians notes

— Matt Andriese got the loss, but he pitched very well, retiring his first eight hitters and 10 of his first 12. But in his fourth inning, he could only get one out and gave up a pair of runs.

“Andriese, for me, was kind of a highlight,” Lovullo said.

— Infielder Wilmer Flores hit his first home run in a D-backs uniform to give Arizona a 2-0 lead in the first inning. While it was his first homer, he’s been one of the best hitters on the team this spring. He came into the game batting .429, third-best of any D-back with at least 10 at-bats.

— Catcher Caleb Joseph smacked a home run to left, also his first as a Diamondback.

Arizona Diamondbacks' Wilmer Flores is congratulated on his two-run home run against the Cleveland Indians in the first inning of a spring training baseball game Thursday, March 7, 2019, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) Cleveland Indians' Brandon Barnes' helmet goes flying as he arrives safely at second base on a stolen base in the second inning of a spring training baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Thursday, March 7, 2019, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) Cleveland Indians' Brandon Barnes, bottom, arrives safely at second base on a stolen base as Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Nick Ahmed, center top, starts to turn toward him for a tag and second baseman Wilmer Flores, right, looks on in the second inning of a spring training baseball game Thursday, March 7, 2019, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Zack Greinke throws against the Cleveland Indians in the first inning of a spring training baseball game Thursday, March 7, 2019, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Trevor Bauer throws against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first inning of a spring training baseball game Thursday, March 7, 2019, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) Cleveland Indians' Trayce Thompson doubles in a pair of runs against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the third inning of a spring training baseball game Thursday, March 7, 2019, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) Arizona Diamondbacks' Nick Ahmed (13) slides into the tag of Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis on a stolen-base attempt during the second inning of a spring training baseball game Thursday, March 7, 2019, in Scottsdale, Ariz. Ahmed was out. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) Arizona Diamondbacks second baseman Wilmer Flores, right, turns toward first but holds up a throw after forcing out Cleveland Indians' Brandon Barnes at second base in the third inning of a spring training baseball game Thursday, March 7, 2019, in Scottsdale, Ariz. Indians' Yu-Cheng Chang was safe at first on the fielder's choice on the play. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Zack Greinke (21) shakes hands with manager Torey Lovullo as the two speak in the dugout after Greinke got out of a bases-loaded second inning by striking out the final two Cleveland Indians batters in the second inning of a spring training baseball game Thursday, March 7, 2019, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) Arizona Diamondbacks fan Joslien Jewett, 5, swings but misses in an area for children to give skills a go, during a spring training baseball game between the Diamondbacks and the Cleveland Indians on Thursday, March 7, 2019, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Adam Cimber winds up against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the fifth inning of a spring training baseball game Thursday, March 7, 2019, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) Arizona Diamondbacks' David Peralta (6) removes the batting helmet of Caleb Joseph as Joseph heads into the dugout for congratulations following solo home run against the Cleveland Indians in the fifth inning of a spring training baseball game Thursday, March 7, 2019, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) Fans dressed as hotdogs compete in a ketchup, mustard and relish race between inning during a spring training baseball game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Cleveland Indians, Thursday, March 7, 2019, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, right, throws to first base after forcing out Arizona Diamondbacks' Ketel Marte at second base in the third inning of a spring training baseball game Thursday, March 7, 2019, in Scottsdale, Ariz. Diamondbacks' Wilmer Flores was out at first on the double play. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Zack Greinke adjusts his cap after loading the bases with Cleveland Indians in the second inning of a spring training baseball game Thursday, March 7, 2019, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) Cleveland Indians' Jason Kipnis swings and misses with the bases loaded to end the top of the second inning of a spring training baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday, March 7, 2019, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

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