Lovullo puts aside friendship with Zack Greinke: ‘Not a fan of his’ when competing between lines

May 23, 2022, 6:11 PM

Pitcher Zack Greinke #21 of the Arizona Diamondbacks is pulled by manager Torey Lovullo #17 of the ...

Pitcher Zack Greinke #21 of the Arizona Diamondbacks is pulled by manager Torey Lovullo #17 of the Arizona Diamondbacks during the sixth inning of a game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on June 13, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — For the first time since being traded in 2019, Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Zack Greinke will be on the mound at Chase Field on Monday against his former team.

The right-hander, who was a three-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner in his three-and-a-half seasons in the Valley (2016-19), has faced the Arizona Diamondbacks twice as an Astro, but both of those starts came in Houston.

D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said during his pregame availability that the two still keep in touch and that he looks forward to watching the former Cy Young winner go to work on the mound.

“I appreciate the friendship that we have. I always admired him as a true, true competitor,” Lovullo said. “He goes out there every time you give him the baseball and he goes as hard as he can and has won a lot of baseball games. I’ll never forget what he’s done for me personally and this whole organization.

“There’s just maybe one or two days a year where I’m not a fan of his and today is one of those days. And he would probably say the same thing. … Hopefully we have a good game plan against him, we feel like we know what works for him and we have to be able to counterpunch (against him) as well.”

While Greinke’s strikeouts per nine ratio is down quite a bit this season (3.7) compared to his career average (8.1), his current 3.48 ERA is hovering just above his 3.41 career average while still besting his last two years with the Astros at 4.03 in 2020 and 4.16 in 2021.

His 1.205 WHIP this season is also hovering just above his career mark of 1.159.

“Zack can do anything he wants in this game and he’s a true negotiator when he’s on the mound, he just wants to get you out and I’m sure he doesn’t care how he’s doing it,” Lovullo said. “Whether there is velocity or isn’t velocity, he’s going to pitch to a gameplan and we know that. we’re going to be ultra prepared for it.”

Greinke also called to congratulate Lovullo on win No. 354 to surpass Kirk Gibson as the all-time winningest manager in Diamondbacks history.

“When you hear from people like that from the past from ex-players, it means a lot. They don’t realize that, but I try to express it back to them,” the manager said. “His words mean a lot to me and I’ll never forget what he did and what he said.”

A few of the words Lovullo said back to Greinke had to do with the right-hander’s Hall of Fame speech should he be inducted into Cooperstown whenever he decides to hang up the spikes.

“I told him that he’s going to be in the Hall of Fame. I said A) mention me in your speech or B) invite me and I’ll be there,” Lovullo said. “I probably won’t crash it, but he better mention me — that’s what I’ve told him many times.”

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Lovullo puts aside friendship with Zack Greinke: ‘Not a fan of his’ when competing between lines