SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) Zack Greinke’s elbow was fine. His control was not.
The high-priced Dodgers pitcher struggled through his first Cactus League start in 3 1/2 weeks, and Los Angeles was beaten by the Kansas City Royals 8-2 on Monday night.
Greinke gave up five runs and six hits over three-plus innings in his first major league outing since March 1. The right-hander, who won the 2009 AL Cy Young Award with Kansas City, signed a $147 million, six-year contract to join the Dodgers in the offseason but has been slowed this spring by a sore elbow and the flu.
Greinke threw 40 of 64 pitches for strikes. He walked the first three batters in the fourth and was replaced by Matt Guerrier, who allowed all three to score.
“I felt strong still, but obviously I must not have been. Walking three in a row, that’s not normal,” Greinke said. “I thought I felt good, but the results didn’t imply that the last inning. It tells me I’ve got some work to do and build up arm strength. I’ve got to fine-tune some off-speed stuff. If the arm strength is there, I can make it work. That’s the No. 1 most important thing.”
Greinke said his elbow felt fine. He is scheduled to pitch Saturday against the Los Angeles Angels, another former team, and if all goes well he believes his arm strength will be sufficient to make his regular-season Dodgers debut April 5 against Pittsburgh.
“It will definitely be there for a while,” Greinke said. “We’ll see if I build up some endurance with it and can go 100 pitches, because that’s the goal. It felt good tonight, but it needs some improvement.”
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was ejected in the seventh by plate umpire Anthony Johnson for coming out after slugger Matt Kemp was called out on strikes.
Royals right-hander Wade Davis allowed two runs, one earned, on four hits and three walks in five innings. Salvador Perez had a two-run double in the first.
Kansas City improved to 22-6-1, matching the team record for spring training wins set with a 22-9 mark in 1999. The Royals, who lead the Cactus League with a .334 batting average, had 15 hits.
Alex Gordon and Alcides Escobar, the first two batters Greinke faced, singled and scored on Perez’s two-out double.
Greinke walked Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain and Jeff Francoeur to start the fourth.
“I was mad about the 3-2 pitch to Hosmer and the 3-2 pitch to Cain,” Greinke said. “On 3-2 you can’t make them that bad, where they can’t even offer at it. Those two were awful pitches. Francoeur had an at-bat you don’t expect from him. I was trying to throw close pitches and I was and he was taking them.”
Greinke’s fastball reached 94 mph.
“The main thing is my off-speed was so bad that they didn’t have to worry about it,” he said. “You can’t even really judge on how good my fastball was because there was nothing else they could worry about. The off-speed pitches were bad, below OK. The fastball was OK, it wasn’t great. A lot needs to be improved. The changeup was good. It was one positive.”
NOTES: Dodgers LHP Chris Capuano threw seven scoreless innings and struck out seven in a minor league game against the Indians. He gave up three hits while throwing 85 pitches. … LHP Bruce Chen, a candidate for the final spot in the Royals’ rotation, starts Tuesday against Seattle. RHP Luis Mendoza, competing with Chen for that job, will start Wednesday against Milwaukee. Chen has a 7.90 ERA in four spring outings but has led the Royals in wins the past three seasons. … After the game, the Royals optioned OF David Lough to Triple-A Omaha. They also released OF-1B Xavier Nady and LHP George Sherrill, who is recovering from elbow surgery, from their minor league contracts.