Zack Greinke shows first signs of mortality as D-backs beat Mariners
Mar 14, 2016, 5:16 PM | Updated: Mar 15, 2016, 11:03 am
(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Zack Greinke makes mistakes after all.
The Arizona Diamondbacks’ star offseason signee tacked two more scoreless innings onto the start of his spring to make it seven frames of zero runs allowed, but in an 8-3 win over the Seattle Mariners he showed the first signs that he is, indeed, mortal.
“A lot more bad pitches than I want,” Greinke said in a lengthy interview session after the game Monday. “Fastball was coming out pretty good, the location just wasn’t that great. Same thing with the slider and change.”
Greinke threw just 26 pitches (20 strikes) to get through two innings, but he hit lead-off batter Shawn O’Malley to begin the third frame. A two-out triple to center field by Seattle’s Luis Sardinas got over Socrates Brito’s head, scoring the first Mariners run to cut into Arizona’s early 2-0 lead.
Then, Kyle Seager took Greinke’s high fastball over the right field fence as Seattle went ahead, 3-2.
“That was a tough pitch to hit,’ Greinke said. “Looked pretty good doing it, didn’t seem like it was lucky. I wouldn’t say it was a good pitch, it was just a tough pitch to hit.”
Greinke’s day ended after 3.2 innings pitched. He allowed six hits and three earned runs while striking out two. The righty threw 65 pitches, 46 for strikes.
And for the first time this spring, Greinke took a whack at the plate, hitting eighth in the order and ahead of shortstop Nick Ahmed.
Arizona manager Chip Hale said he would like all of his pitchers to hit eighth this year, but the spring will help the staff decide if that will indeed be the case.
Greinke, who slashed .224/.232/.343 last year for the Los Angeles Dodgers and in 2013 had a .328 average, is leading the rest of the pitchers’ improvements at the plate. Triple-A Reno assistant coach Tack Wilson has been tasked with working on the staff’s offense all spring, Hale said.
“You watch him work, just like when he throws his bullpens, his BPs are the same way. He’s very precise, very tough on himself,” Hale said of Greinke. “The other pitchers are kind of taking that on. We’ve worked really hard with them hitting and bunting this year.”
In his only at-bat Monday, Greinke struck out looking with two on and one out in the bottom of the second before Ahmed knocked in two runs with a single.
The Diamondbacks’ ace said he enjoys hitting, just “not when they make really good pitches that strike me out.” And he doesn’t mind where he hits in the order.
“I don’t really have a feeling about it,” Greinke said. “Some teams do it, we might do it. I don’t think it’s a big deal for me personally. It doesn’t bother me.”
Arizona trailed Seattle 3-2 after Greinke was lifted, but outfielder Peter O’Brien followed his two-homer performance a day earlier with a pinch-hit, two-strike RBI single to tie the game in the bottom of the third.
“In the last four days, I’d say, Pete has sort of blossomed in front of us,” Hale said before the game. “His two-strike approach started it. He started to choke up a little bit with two strikes. He’s sort of taken that earlier into the count. It’s just a matter of finding a spot defensively, that’s why we put him at first, he’s been out in the outfield.”
Ahmed, who finished with three hits and two RBI, followed O’Brien’s RBI with a triple to score O’Brien and give the Diamondbacks a 4-3 lead. Arizona added two seventh-inning runs and went ahead 8-3 in the eighth on Phil Gosselin’s two-run homer.
Another impressive offensive performance for Arizona may or may not have helped Hale shrug off Greinke’s first less-than-perfect performance of the spring.
Either way, the D-backs manager didn’t seem concerned.
“He’s a pitcher and it’s hard to be perfect all the time,” Hale said.
HE SAID IT, PART 1
“I mean, they’re not always exactly accurate. If they were, you could probably gamble on it and make some money.” – Zack Greinke on predictions that say the D-backs won’t improve much from last year
HE SAID IT, PART 2
“I don’t have trouble with catchers. It’s more if I’m throwing good then things work out good. If I’m throwing bad then I might start making excuses and blame someone besides myself. The No. 1 goal is to pitch good.” – Zack Greinke on how it was throwing to Tuffy Gosewisch for the first time.
Outfielder Yasmany Tomas hit for the second day in a row Monday and could perhaps play Thursday or Friday after dealing with swelling in his knee.
Meanwhile, center fielder A.J. Pollock’s timeline to return from an elbow issue could be five to seven days, Hale said.