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Greinke thinks he's ready to return to LA

Dodgers right-hander is pain-free after first rehab outing

LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. -- Pain free but knocked around on Friday night in his first rehab start, Dodgers right-hander Zack Greinke said he's ready to return to the Major Leagues one month after breaking his left collarbone.

But Greinke also said he might not have pitched well enough to convince management he's ready after allowing eight runs (three earned) on six hits in 4 1/3 innings for Class A Rancho Cucamonga against San Diego's Lake Elsinore affiliate. He made 80 pitches and struck out four without a walk.

"I am," Greinke said when asked if he was ready to be activated. "I won't be in midseason form, but I feel I'm able to get guys out.

"I just have to get my right arm ready. I'll definitely head somewhere. I can't say [where] without talking to somebody. I'm sure they'd rather me pitch better than the results. I felt I pitched OK. Get the lights of a Major League game and it's different, you step up another notch."

Greinke made five more pitches than his targeted pitch count and said he wanted to face another batter. He said the collarbone that was surgically repaired on April 13 "doesn't bother me anymore."

"I feel like I can do just about anything except run into anyone or run into a wall," he said. "They told me, don't dive."

The one time Greinke appeared awkward was fielding a bunt and throwing off balance, and late, to first base.

"I was trying to do too much, trying to get the guy at third, but he was pretty fast," he said.

Greinke said his velocity wasn't 100 percent, "but I can pitch in the Minor Leagues 10 times and it will be like this all 10 times. I need the highest league to bring out the best stuff."

He said his curveball was "awful -- but it's been awful all year. Nothing new there." He said he thought his changeup was sharp, but was puzzled why hitters weren't chasing it.

"Either they're really good hitters," he said, "or it wasn't as good as I thought."

Robert Kral had three extra-base hits against Greinke -- a homer and two doubles -- and added another home run off reliever Ryan Acosta. The Quakes made three errors behind Greinke, leading to five unearned runs.

"I threw him three strikes, right down the middle, and he crushed all of them," Greinke said of Kral.

Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti, Minor Leagues vice president DeJon Watson and medical director Stan Conte watched the outing to determine if Greinke is ready to rejoin the Dodgers and start next Wednesday or needs another rehab start.

"If the doctors say he can pitch, we're going to let him pitch," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said at Dodger Stadium before Friday night's game.

"We feel like his arm is going to be ready to pitch. He's going to throw 75 pitches or around there if he's not having any problems. As long as the doctors relatively say this is safe for him to pitch with, then he wants to pitch and he probably thought he could have pitched tonight [for the Dodgers], knowing Zack. He would have pitched tonight if the doctors said he didn't have to go on a rehab."

Greinke did not bat, as Class A leagues use designated hitters. Mattingly said Greinke could be asked to bunt, but wasn't sure that would be necessary as Greinke has been hitting off a tee.

Greinke was injured on April 11 when he lowered his left shoulder to take the blow of Carlos Quentin, who charged the mound after behind hit by a Greinke pitch for the third time in his career.

When hit by the pitch, Quentin took a few steps and stopped. At that point Greinke reportedly said, "Save it," and Quentin dropped his bat and bull-rushed the pitcher. Quentin was suspended for eight games and later said he spoke with Greinke about the incident, but Greinke had no comment about their conversation.

The force of the blow on the shoulder created a significant fracture of Greinke's collarbone closer to the shoulder than the sternum. The fracture was repaired on April 13 with a metal plate and screws.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for
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