Zack Greinke ‘pretty good’ in spring debut with Arizona Diamondbacks

Mar 4, 2016, 3:43 PM

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — In what was arguably the most anticipated debut of the Cactus League season, Arizona Diamondbacks starter Zack Greinke did not disappoint.

Taking the mound at Salt River Fields in front of a Friday afternoon crowd of 9,875 against the Oakland A’s, Greinke threw two scoreless innings with a pair of strikeouts.

“It was alright,” he said.  “Decent location. Some OK off-speed and not all of them perfect, but they were OK; and then some good pitches and some not quite as good, but overall pretty good.”

Greinke’s only blemish was a leadoff hit by Yonder Alonso to begin the second inning; the ball dropping in shallow left field and a hard-charging Yasmany Tomas picked it up and rifled a throw to second base, where Jean Segura applied the tag on Alonso for the out.

The D-backs defense was on its game behind Greinke.

An inning earlier, Paul Goldschmidt backhanded a sharply-hit grounder up the first base line. He flipped the ball to Greinke, who was covering the bag, to retire Chris Coghlan for the third out.

“The whole game was pretty good,” Greinke said. “Tomas made a couple of good plays. That play in the third inning was really impressive (catching a Max Muncy fly ball while battling the sun). Goldschmidt’s, I kind of stopped running because I thought it was going to get by him and then he caught it so I had to start moving again.”

Greinke, signed to a record six-year, $206.5 million contract in the offseason, was efficient in his brief time on the mound.

Of the 25 pitches he threw, 16 were strikes, including an 89-mph changeup to strike out Sam Fuld in the first inning and an 88-mph slider that froze Andrew Lambo for a strikeout and end the A’s at-bats in the second.

Greinke’s first official pitch in a D-backs uniform was a 75-mph changeup to Billy Burns, which was taken for ball one.

“That guy swings on that first pitch more than anyone in baseball, I think.  I don’t want to give up an easy hit throwing a fastball right down the middle. He’s famous for it,” said Greinke, who threw an additional eight-to-10 pitches in the bullpen after exiting the game. “You never want to get hit, so at least try to keep him off balance a little bit; not feeling too good.”

Greinke threw to Welington Castillo, who has been behind the plate for most of Greinke’s throwing sessions, i.e. bullpen and batting practice, and would prefer to pitch to a single catcher once the season begins.

“Usually that’s how I like it; it’s just easier that way,” he said, adding about Castillo, “I really like how he catches.  He’s been pretty darn good so far.”

Said manager Chip Hale about a Greinke-Castillo battery, “If he’s comfortable with that, we can get comfortable with it. We want him to pitch his best, so we’ll do everything we can — just like all of our pitchers — to make him as comfortable as we can. There might be times during the year where a guy comes up a little lame and has to sit a few days. That’s why in spring training you would like every catcher to catch each pitcher at some point, whether it’s just bullpens or BPs, but they have to have some sort of comfort level with everybody.”

The benefits of a so-called personal catcher are obvious, according to Hale.

“If you know before even the pitcher does what he wants to throw, it makes it a lot easier; and that’s just a fact of the game,” he said. “We want everybody to pitch the best they can, so let’s set it up with the person that they feel comfortable with.”

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