There’s only so much stock worth putting into a minor-league start on the backfields of spring training, but Diamondbacks right-hander Zack Greinke is a rare breed when it comes to taking extraordinary pride in his outings.
Greinke was touched for five runs over 6 1/3 innings in a minor-league game at Salt River Fields on Saturday, his final outing before taking the mound on Opening Day against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Greinke threw 92 pitches.
“It wasn’t the best quality of stuff but I thought it was alright,” Greinke said after the game.
Overall, Greinke has been positive about his returns this spring, citing his health, velocity and stuff as reasons for him to be confident heading into the 2019 season. But he certainly wasn’t sharp on Saturday.
Greinke allowed three hits in the first inning (including a two-run home run) and a run-scoring single in the second before settling down a bit. He registered a 1-2-3 third inning before giving up a second homer?in the fourth.
The veteran came back the next inning and struck out the side. Greinke finished with eight strikeouts. He allowed 10 hits and did not walk a batter. He exited the game with a 6-5 lead. At the plate, Greinke notched a single and picked up an RBI with a sac fly in the second inning.
“It’s not, like, the best I’ll ever be but it was definitely better than a lot of times,” Greinke said. “I’ve been healthy all spring. Still healthy, so that’s a nice thing. Hopefully it stays that way.”
Carson Kelly was behind the plate for Greinke on Saturday, although it remains to be seen which catcher(s) will be matched up with Greinke in the regular season. Jeff Mathis, who is now with the Texas Rangers, was Greinke’s personal catcher?the past two seasons.
Kelly, one of the integral parts of the Paul Goldschmidt trade over the offseason, figures to carry a significant amount of the load behind the plate for the Diamondbacks this season, but it’s unclear whether Greinke will stick with one catcher this season or use a mix of Kelly, Alex Avila, John Ryan Murphy and Caleb Joseph, depending on which catchers make the 25-man roster.
“We have tried to match up every catcher with him,” manager Torey Lovullo said before Greinke’s outing on Saturday. “We wanted to expose Carson with him. I’m going to sit down and have my conversation with Zack and at a certain point I have to make my decision. I want to do it right for Zack. I know he is a creature of habit … I’ll get some insight from him.”
Still, it wasn’t all business for Greinke on Saturday. During innings in which he was not due up to hit, he would emerge from the dugout to converse with his wife, Emily, and two sons, Bode and Griffin, to briefly play with them or bring them a cup of water from the dugout.
Greinke was also sporting a ponytail on Saturday due to his hair getting caught in his jersey during his previous outing. But the ponytail caused problems, too, as Greinke had his helmet fall off when he swung and missed at a pitch during an at-bat. As a result, Greinke admitted he might have to cut his long locks before Opening Day, although a decision has not been finalized.
D-Backs talk Coyotes
Diamondbacks outfielder David Peralta was the star at the Coyotes’ “D-Backs Night” event at Gila River Arena last Thursday, getting to drop the ceremonial first puck and watch the Coyotes take warmups prior to their game against the Anaheim Ducks.
Peralta said he was extremely nervous, but ultimately said it was fun to be around a team in a position like the Coyotes, who are within two points of a playoff spot with seven games remaining.
“I was freezing,” Peralta said, laughing. “But I was really happy to be there and especially during this time they’re having right now with fighting toward the playoffs. For me to have that honor to drop the puck … which I’ve never done before, and I was afraid that I was going to fall down on the red carpet, by the way.”
Other Diamondbacks players —?including right-hander Archie Bradley —?were in attendance, as well. The Coyotes wore and auctioned off special Diamondbacks-inspired jerseys before the game.
“I knew it was going to be a carpet but I didn’t know if the carpet was going to be moving around on the ice,” Peralta said. “And then there’s everyone saying, ‘Don’t lean back, just lean forward’ ...?I’m just down there freezing and sweating; I was sweating because I was nervous. But it was so cool to meet the guys. They were so nice and excited it actually got me a little pumped up. That was a really special moment.”
Coyotes forward Vinnie Hinostroza netted a hat trick in a 6-1 win for the Coyotes. Diamondbacks right-hander Matt Andriese, who is a lifelong hockey fan and grew up rooting for the Ducks, was shown on the TV broadcast contemplating whether he should toss his hat on the ice to celebrate Hinostroza’s accomplishment.
Andriese said the hesitation was not due to his team allegiance; rather, his suite was so far from the ice that he feared his hat would not reach the playing surface.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Diamondbacks' Zack Greinke allows five runs in final start before Opening Day
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