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Greinke's got jokes, backstop banter

@brianmctaggart
September 19, 2020

HOUSTON -- Like he has done many times this season, Astros right-hander Zack Greinke decided to skip looking for signs in Friday's 6-3 loss, instead getting vocal from the mound. And he also took the time to share a laugh with one of his former D-backs teammates. Greinke, who pitched

HOUSTON -- Like he has done many times this season, Astros right-hander Zack Greinke decided to skip looking for signs in Friday's 6-3 loss, instead getting vocal from the mound. And he also took the time to share a laugh with one of his former D-backs teammates.

Greinke, who pitched for Arizona from 2016-19 before getting dealt to Houston at last year's Trade Deadline, joked with D-backs outfielder David Peralta just before taking the mound for his start at Minute Maid Park. Greinke appeared to point at his ribs, joking about plunking Peralta, and the two traded grins. Later, Peralta struck out in each of his two plate appearances against Greinke in the second and fourth innings.

“He was very friendly walking out to the mound for his first-inning work, and he was connecting with our dugout a little bit," Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. "But I think once he gets to that point where he starts to make pitches, he gets locked in. It was nice to see him and fantastic to compete against him.”

Before that, Greinke again got vocal with his signs, verbally discussing them with veteran catcher Martín Maldonado during the first inning. Greinke missed outside on a 1-2 pitch to Josh VanMeter and then, taking advantage of an empty ballpark, began asking Maldonado if he wanted the next pitch inside or outside.

“I didn’t know if you wanted it in or out,” Greinke appeared to say.

After Greinke came back to strike out VanMeter swinging on a 2-2 pitch on the outside corner, Greinke appeared to mouth, “Ah, I get it.” The right-hander went on to pitch five solid innings, with all three of his runs allowed coming on a home run by Kole Calhoun in the fourth.

Last month, Greinke explained why he was calling his own pitches in a win over the Giants with a runner at second by giving hand signals to Maldonado. During that game, he could even be heard talking about changing up the signs, which was picked up clearly on television microphones.

“Today, there was a man on second base and it got all messed up and it took longer than I was hoping it would take,” Greinke said. “It’s 50 percent my fault and 50 percent Maldy’s fault. ... I don’t like taking a long time with a man on second base especially. I’m trying to find a way to speed that up. So far this year, it's been good. It got messed up today.”

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.