GLENDALE, Ariz. — Dodgers right-hander Zack Greinke was removed from his first Cactus League start Thursday afternoon three pitches into the game with a mild right calf strain.
“It felt like nothing really,” Greinke said. “There was something there. Stuff like that will happen all the time, then the next pitch it’s gone. This time the next pitch, it wasn’t gone and it took a little while. Usually if you walk it off it goes away, but it didn’t go away. So that was kind of the thing that was different.”
Greinke needed one pitch to retire leadoff hitter Tony Campana on a fly ball to left field. The next batter, Cliff Pennington, took a ball and a strike from Greinke before head athletic trainer Stan Conte visited the mound. Conte and Dodgers manager Don Mattingly watched Greinke take a couple practice pitches and discussed the situation before Greinke walked off on his own power with Conte.
“The first (warmup pitch) that I threw, I didn’t really push off with my leg and it was fine,” he said. “I’m sure I could’ve pitched a whole game not pushing off during the season but right now it’s a risk/reward. I say I’m sure I could’ve — maybe I couldn’t have. The one pitch that I didn’t push off on, I didn’t feel it too much. Then the second one I tried to push a little bit more and I did feel it.”
Chris Withrow came in from the bullpen to finish the at-bat with Pennington.
Greinke is one of four pitchers the Dodgers are preparing to start the two season-opening games in Sydney, Australia on March 22 and 23. He drew criticism last weekend for saying that he had “no excitement” for the trip, though he softened his stance Thursday.
“No one wants me to say it this way, but in my vote if we had to go over there, my vote was not go,” Greinke said. “But more people wanted to go than not, so now that we are going, I want to be there. I don’t want to not go, and have the rest of the team go and have to play, and me sit here watching. I also don’t want to go over there and watch. I want to go over there and play since that’s what we’re doing.”
Greinke said the injury shouldn’t prevent him from pitching in the opening series if he’s chosen. He said that he would ice the muscle once before leaving the stadium and again tonight. Greinke has had a healthy spring so far and does not have a history with calf injuries.
He emphasized that coming out of the game was a precautionary measure.
“They’re not going to let you stay in that first game of spring. If you hurt it, you get fired probably,” Greinke said. “I knew once it lasted a little bit, no one wants to take a chance unless they’re 100 percent sure that I’m OK. I don’t think anyone was 100 percent sure.”