Zack Greinke wants to make 34 starts during the regular season.
He might get that chance after all.
Making his first start against live hitters since he was shut down with elbow tightness earlier this month, Greinke threw four shutout innings in a Triple-A game against the Chicago White Sox at Camelback Ranch.
The right-hander allowed a single, hit a batter with a pitch, walked none and struck out two. He threw 43 pitches.
“It wasn’t perfect command. You saw me upset with several pitches,” Greinke said. “It was my first outing in two weeks, so I guess that’s kind of expected.”
Greinke’s last start was March 1, a three-inning outing against the San Diego Padres. He received a platelet-rich plasma injection in his right elbow 10 days later and hasn’t reported any pain in the elbow since he resumed throwing.
Assuming that doesn’t change tomorrow, he’ll pitch in exhibition games March 25 and March 30, with the possibility of making his first regular-season start April 5 at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Whether or not he makes that start will depend largely on the progress he makes in the exhibition games. Is two starts enough to get ready?
“I hope so,” Greinke said. “It should be.”
“Today, I would not want to be pitching the way I did today the first game of the season,” he said.
Greinke added that he started feeling tired facing the final two batters in a 1-2-3 fourth inning. “That’s what you want to do,” he said, “pitch just enough so you’re testing yourself a little bit, but not too much so that you hurt yourself.”
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly originally slotted Greinke into the second start of the season April 2. He has plenty of options for reshuffling the rotation — seven, to be specific, after Opening Day starter Clayton Kershaw.
Because of a quirky schedule early in the season, the Dodgers might not miss Greinke much. They have an off-day April 4 after opening the season with a three-game homestand against the San Francisco Giants and another April 8 after the three-game series against Pittsburgh.