SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- D-backs ace Zack Greinke left Wednesday's start with tightness in his right groin after pitching one inning in his second Cactus League start. He was penciled in for five innings.
Greinke faced four batters in the first frame, allowing a single to right and striking out two, including a big strikeout of Joey Votto. His velocity was up several ticks, ranging from 83 to 92 mph, five mph faster than his last radar-gun readings.
"I was kind of tight all day, but I felt it more so just walking off the mound the last inning," Greinke said. "The first step I took, I felt it, so I don't know if it was the last pitch or if there was a couple pitches and just didn't realize it until afterwards. It seems pretty small at the moment, so hopefully not a long-term thing."
Manager Torey Lovullo was optimistic that the early exit was primarily precautionary and would not significantly impact Greinke's ability to be ready by Opening Day. He said no scans were planned at this point and emphasized waiting until Thursday to get a better idea of Greinke's condition.
"[Greinke staying on schedule] would be the best-case scenario, but we'll use precaution," Lovullo said. "We're not going to force-feed anything here and make him go out there and perform just to jam 50 or 60 pitches down his throat. We want to make sure that he's OK."
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Greinke had expressed concern about the lower-than-normal velocity last week, but he also said that he typically isn't concerned about his velocity in Spring Training games and always arrives at Opening Day where he needs to be.
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"Velocity was the least of my worries, because I knew it would come back some," Greinke said Wednesday. "I don't know how much it will come back, but I was much more worried about the execution of the pitches at the time."
Greinke didn't want to pitch through the discomfort, since he has no past experience with a groin injury. It was an issue he'd been aware of in the days leading up to the start.
"I've been just sore for a couple days now," Greinke said. "But you're sore every day all year round, so if you're worried about little things all the time, then you'll never do anything.
"Something like this usually happens to me early in camp almost every year, and this year it just took a little longer. It'd be better if it was a little earlier, but hopefully it's small enough that it doesn't make a difference in things."
Greinke looked in midseason form during the one inning he pitched, and most of his previous concerns seemed to have been allayed until he left the mound.
"Surprisingly, [I felt] really good," he said of his one inning on the hill. "Bullpen was really terrible, and then the first inning was great. Changeups were great. One curveball was really good. All my sliders in warmup were as good as they've been. It was going good."
Lovullo's hope pregame was to see Greinke get through five innings with 60-70 pitches, repeat his delivery and land his pitches. Greinke ended up throwing 19 pitches, 13 for strikes, and he consistently touched the 90s in his one-inning outing.
"It was one exceptional inning," Lovullo said. "The [velocity] was where he wants it and what we've come to expect from Zack, but it wasn't a big concern for me. I knew it would eventually pop up and show its face. But today was a really good day for him. The one at-bat that really sticks out was the Votto at-bat. That was Zack at his best, and it was nice to see."
As soon as Greinke came off the field at the end of the first, long-relief candidate Albert Suarez began warming up in the D-backs' bullpen, eventually coming in to start the second as Greinke headed for the clubhouse.
"The pitching was really good, but it was just one inning, and I might have got hurt in the process, so hopefully that's not a big deal," Greinke said.
The D-backs feel confident that they've got the starting depth to cover an injury to one of their five projected starters. Suarez, Braden Shipley, Kris Medlen and Michael Blazek have all been competing for a long-relief role in the bullpen with the idea that whoever doesn't make it would start at Triple-A Reno as one of their "depth starters" ready to come to the Majors at a moment's notice. Lovullo also said that Archie Bradley starting remains an option.
Suarez was already scheduled to pitch Wednesday, but he was tasked with entering the game four innings early, and he rose to the challenge with two scoreless innings of two-hit, no-walk ball.
"Real nice to see," Lovullo said. "Guys that are coming into a structured situation at Spring Training, they can prepare for that. To catch him by surprise, have him ramp up, come in and throw two pretty impressive innings was nice to see. Everybody got real hot real fast down there, and they all answered the bell really well, especially Suarez. He was the first one out. What he did was very impressive."
The D-backs send left-hander Robbie Ray to the mound against the Cubs Thursday for a 1:05 p.m. MST game in Mesa. Fans can listen live via an exclusive audio webcast.