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Greinke ready for 3rd Opening Day start

March 30, 2017

PHOENIX -- When Zack Greinke took the mound on Opening Day for the D-backs last year, there was much excitement and anticipation amongst the fan base.After all, the D-backs had signed him to a six-year, $206.5 million blockbuster free-agent deal and he was coming off a season in which he

PHOENIX -- When Zack Greinke took the mound on Opening Day for the D-backs last year, there was much excitement and anticipation amongst the fan base.
After all, the D-backs had signed him to a six-year, $206.5 million blockbuster free-agent deal and he was coming off a season in which he had compiled a 1.66 ERA with the Dodgers.
Things certainly didn't go according to plan on that day -- Greinke allowed seven runs over four innings against the Rockies -- nor did they go as planned for the season as the D-backs finished a disappointing 69-93.
When Greinke takes the mound Sunday afternoon (1:10 MST) against the Giants to open the 2017 season, the expectations seem more muted both for the team and Greinke, who finished 2016 with a 4.37 ERA and battled a pair of injuries.
The D-backs, though, still believe in Greinke and are not concerned that his velocity dipped a bit this spring. They brought him along a little slower than usual not because of concerns over his health, but due to the extra time built into Spring Training for the World Baseball Classic.
For his part, Greinke said he's right where he needs to be.
"As ready as I'm going to be," Greinke said after his final spring start Tuesday. "Executed all my pitches in just about all spots, so you can't ask for much more than that. I was throwing the ball kind of pretty close to where I wanted it to end up. Starting to feel comfortable with guys on base, how to make pitches when guys are on base. Sometimes you're a little rusty at that early in camp, but I feel more comfortable in that situation, holding runners."
New D-backs manager Torey Lovullo also said he was satisfied with what he's seen.
"Given where he started out, where we slow played him to what he's doing today, I feel like he's right on track with where he wanted to be," Lovullo said. "We've seen the consistency with all his pitches."
Greinke has also gotten the chance to throw to all three catchers the D-backs expect to have on the Opening Day roster in Jeff Mathis, Chris Iannetta and Chris Herrmann. While it was thought Mathis would catch Greinke most often given his pitch-framing ability, Lovullo has said he wants to stay away from designated catchers.
"Worked with all the catchers," Greinke said. "That's all pretty smooth."
Surprisingly for a pitcher of his stature, Greinke does not have a lot of experience pitching on Opening Day.
While with the Royals, he did it in 2010 and then again last year in Arizona. That's it.
Opening Day or not, though, he's used to the extra nerves that go with taking the mound for the first time in a season.
"I would say for most players, at least in my experience, my first start was always moreso," Greinke said. "There's also a little more excitement on Opening Day. Maybe just a little more for that, but just your first outing is always pretty intense."

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.