Healthy Zack Greinke aims for better 2nd season with D-backs
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The 2016 season certainly wasn’t what the Arizona Diamondbacks and Zack Greinke expected when the team signed him to a six-year, $206.5 million contract.
Greinke knew it would be hard to duplicate the numbers from his magnificent 2015 season, when he went 19-3 with a 1.99 ERA for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Still, he said, “I thought I could pitch the same.”
It didn’t happen. Hampered by injuries and on an Arizona team that quickly nosedived out of contention, Greinke went 13-7 with a 4.37 ERA.
“I guess it could have been better everywhere, team and me,” he said. “But I still have really high hopes for our team. I thought we were going to be really good going into last year. We pretty much have the same team or a very similar team. I think we should be good.”
Any success will require a strong season by the 33-year-old right-hander, who threw his first mound session of the spring on Wednesday.
New manager Torey Lovullo said he was impressed.
“We know that he is very self-aware and he knows what it’s going to take to get himself ready,” Lovullo said. “It was a nice, easy rhythm bullpen, spotting up his fastball, and he said he felt great. We’re very encouraged about what we saw and we know Zack is very much in control of where he’s at.”
Oblique and shoulder injuries limited Greinke to 158 2/3 innings, his fewest since 2007.
“I’m not used to it,” he said of the injuries, “but I feel really healthy and strong. I’m not feeling real old. I feel pretty good. I feel like they were semi-fluky injuries, not anything long-term-issue-wise.”
He had one outstanding stretch after he returned from the oblique injury when he won seven straight starts and saw his ERA drop from 5.08 to 3.54.
“Yeah, it was really good,” Greinke said, “then I got hurt and then I didn’t do that good when I came back. I kind of didn’t pitch as good as I probably could have or should have.”
He missed all of July with the oblique injury and was shut down for good with shoulder stiffness following a Sept. 21 start in San Diego.
Greinke prefers to have the same catcher each outing, but he’ll have to adjust to somebody new after the Diamondbacks didn’t re-sign Welington Castillo.
“I’ll be fine with whoever,” Greinke said. “I liked Welly, though.”
Manager Chip Hale was fired at the end of last season and the Diamondbacks hired Lovullo, the bench coach of the Boston Red Sox.
Greinke and his new manager are just getting to know each other.
“He’s been good so far,” Greinke said. “The thing I’ve noticed about him is everyone that’s ever had time with him has said the best things about him. That’s a pretty good quality.”
Lovullo said his initial impression of his No. 1 pitcher is that he is “extremely professional, extremely hard-working.”
“I didn’t know anything about Zack other than what I saw when I was in the opposing dugout and what I saw on the mound,” Lovullo said, “but the limited time since I’ve had to get to know him and some of my conversation is that he’s very well-prepared, very educated about his strengths and understands where he’s trying to get each and every day.
“We’re continuing to develop a relationship that’s built on communication and, day by day, we’re able to share a lot of information. I like where it’s going.”