Greinke feels healthy in 1st session since injury

March 18th, 2018

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Zack Greinke was all smiles and laughter as he walked off the bullpen mound and into the clubhouse with catcher Alex Avila after a 40-pitch bullpen session that put him back on track to start the season in the D-backs' rotation.

"If I felt this good every day for the rest of my career, it would be amazing," said Greinke, who left his Wednesday start with tightness in his right groin. "I'll definitely be making the next outing. I felt healthy and the pitches were pretty good. Hopefully that continues. It should; it was a good day."

Greinke's bullpen was a little more substantial than normal -- he throws 20 or fewer pitches during a regular season side session -- but having only thrown 19 pitches in his one inning of work Wednesday, the meaty bullpen work helped him make up for lost time.

Greinke didn't say when his next start would be, and manager Torey Lovullo hasn't announced a decision yet.

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"We'll need to drill down to the day and the number of pitches he needs to throw," Lovullo said of Greinke's next spring start. "We need to make sure he's ready and feeling good [Monday] when he gets to the ballpark."

If he continues on his regular schedule of days off, side sessions, and starts, Greinke will not be the Opening Day starter. Lovullo delayed his side session by two days, meaning his subsequent starts would all be delayed two days as well, lining him up for the third game of the season-opening series with the Rockies.

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"If he hits all his landmarks, then we could find him in that area," Lovullo said. "That's what I'm hopeful for."

As the D-backs look to shuffle their rotation to slot a new starter in for Opening Day, Lovullo is confident that he can align things without compromising anyone's preparation and build-up in the final 10 days before the regular season starts. The rest of the rotation is lined up with Robbie Ray, , , and , in that order.

"We feel very good about the remaining four candidates, that they are built up enough, and if we need to rearrange it, any one of the four could be candidates to start Opening Day," Lovullo said. "We feel comfortable about their pitch counts presently, knowing that they'll be at the right spot starting Opening Day."

Ultimately, Greinke does not appear to be stressing over whether he starts Thursday, Friday, or Saturday in the season's first series, keeping his focus on long-term success and downplaying the hoopla of the first game.

"It's a cool thing," he conceded. "It feels good to get a win on the first day of the season.

"I think most people want to [start on Opening Day], but in importance to making it to the playoffs and winning the World Series, it holds zero value. Unless, maybe you make one extra start during the year and you're the best pitcher, then it could be beneficial."

Five more leave camp

The D-backs made five more cuts on Sunday morning, putting the number of players in camp at 41, as they continue to pare down to their 25-man Opening Day roster.

Right-handed pitchers and were optioned to Triple-A Reno. Shipley had been among those Lovullo identified as competing for a long role in the D-backs' bullpen, and a depth starter at Triple-A if he didn't make the roster.

"A few guys have really opened my eyes and have thrown the ball extremely well -- Shipley's one of them," Lovullo said on Wednesday. "We feel like we have a bunch of candidates we can put into that role and help us out and assist us and win eight to 10 games if someone goes down."

Shipley has gone 4-6 with a 5.40 ERA in 23 games (14 starts) with the D-backs over the last two years. He was 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA in three Cactus League appearances.

Bracho was a potential bullpen candidate for the D-backs, but the stiff competition for limited spots has him starting his season at Triple-A. Bracho has made 60 appearances for the D-backs over the last three years, posting a 5.46 ERA.

Right-handed pitcher and outfielder were both assigned to Minor League camp, and catcher Josh Thole was released.

Thole's stock went down when the D-backs signed to a Minor League contract in early March. The D-backs are expected to keep Avila, Jeff Mathis, and Chris Herrmann on the big league roster, and Recker, John Ryan Murphy, and Michael Perez have all been in camp.

Thole was 0-for-12 in Cactus League play and has hit .242 in 478 games over the course of eight years with the Blue Jays and Mets.

Sherfy debuts

After experiencing shoulder fatigue early in Spring Training, 26-year-old right-hander has been taking it slow as he ramps up to what he hopes will be his first full season in the Majors.

He made his Cactus League debut Sunday in the D-backs' 6-3 loss to the Reds. Sherfy threw one inning and gave up one run on two hits, while striking out two. One of his hits was an infield hit to the shortstop, and the other was a solo shot -- his fourth homer of the Cactus League season -- to right-center field.

"He threw the ball well," Lovullo said. "The ball came out hot. He just made a mistake out over the plate to a hitter that obviously has opposite field power. He did what we wanted to see. He attacked the zone. The stuff came out very, very aggressively. He felt great after the outing."

Assuming he feels fine Monday, the D-backs will try to get him back on the mound as early as Tuesday, so they can continue to evaluate him for a potential spot in the bullpen.

"He knows that he's competing for a roster spot, and he's got to get out there in a healthy way and perform, like we saw him today," Lovullo said.

Up next

The D-backs host the White Sox Monday at 1:10 p.m. MST for the second of three spring matchups. Right-handed pitcher toes the rubber as he works to solidify his bid as the long man in the Arizona bullpen. Watch the game live on MLB.TV.