Kelly catches Greinke for first time vs. A's

Young backstop makes case to catch former Cy Young winner

February 26th, 2019

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- got the start behind the plate for Monday's win over the A's, as the D-backs try to determine which of their catchers is best suited to catch ace this season.

caught most of Greinke’s starts the past two seasons, but he signed a free-agent deal with the Rangers during the offseason.

“I don’t want people to read into it too far that [Kelly is] going to be paired with Zack or I’m forcing this relationship to happen,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “I just wanted Zack to be exposed to him, as I will do with other catchers that have not necessarily caught him in a game. I thought it was a good match.”

Greinke pitched well, needing just 16 pitches (14 strikes) to get through two perfect innings with one strikeout. After he left the game, Greinke went and threw another 15 pitches in the bullpen to keep building his pitch count for the regular season.

“The ball was coming out of my hand a lot better than it was last [spring],” Greinke said.

While Kelly got the first look in Cactus League play, he won’t get the only one. and will also likely get a start with Greinke, as could veteran .

“I think the one thing that Zack wants is for it to be the same guy,” Lovullo said. “That’s what he asks for from the first conversation that I had with him two years ago, and I don’t think that’s changed. We want to make Zack as comfortable as possible and try to find that perfect fit for him.”

Greinke said he thought Kelly, who caught his live batting-practice session last week, looked good behind the plate.

Kelly was acquired from the Cardinals in the trade that sent to St. Louis, and he has some experience catching veteran pitchers like and , which he said helped him with Greinke.

“Initially yes,” Kelly said of feeling extra pressure to catch a former Cy Young Award winner. “Because you’re like, ‘Wow, Zack Greinke,’ but then as you see him go through his routine and as you get more familiar with what he does, then he just becomes another guy to work with, and that’s something that’s important especially as a catcher and pitcher relationship.”

Though he has said that he would like to have just one catcher, Greinke seems open to the possibility of having multiple backstops catch him this year.

As they have in the past, the D-backs will likely start the year with three catchers. Kelly, Avila and Murphy are the frontrunners, with Joseph more of a long shot given he has Minor League options.

Avila has the most experience of the three, and Greinke referenced him in saying that the left-handed hitter might not be a good choice to start against some of the National League West's tough lefty starters. Kelly and Murphy, who are both right-handed, could catch in those situations.

“I prefer one guy,” Greinke said. “But with Alex, it’s not ideal to have him facing a [Madison] Bumgarner or [Clayton] Kershaw. So that makes it a little tougher. And he’s a really good hitter against other guys. There comes a point where offense is important. I think with our catchers being around long enough, they’ll be able to adjust better than if you trade for someone midyear. I think it will work out better than it would sometimes in the past with me.”