Frustrated Greinke self-critical after rough start

Dodgers starter feels behind schedule in preparing for season

Frustrated Greinke self-critical after rough start

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Zack Greinke started Spring Training behind schedule because of a "precautionary" elbow lubricating injection. With his first regular-season start 11 days away, he's still behind schedule.

An annoyed Greinke was removed after only 3 2/3 innings Friday night by Dodgers manager Don Mattingly when he reached his 76-pitch limit. Greinke said he felt fine physically, but lacked command with all pitches. Greinke gets one more Spring Training start, tentatively on an extra day of rest Thursday in the Freeway Series against the Angels, although Mattingly hinted there were "other options" that would allow Greinke to start April 7 against the Padres. Greinke was asked if one more start will be enough to start the season.

"After today," he said, "I probably need five more starts."

Greinke was being facetious, maybe. He was shaking his head in frustration from the first inning on. He struck out three, walked two and after retiring the first five batters, allowed five hits, two of them doubles. He said his last two innings were "pretty horrible."

"Everything feels fine," he said. "I'm just not pitching that well."

He said he's thrown enough that "I should be ready. If I'm not, it's not because of lack of innings. It's just that I didn't get ready fast enough."

Mattingly said he was confident Greinke would be ready for the second game.

"Just at what level? Basically, he's one behind," Mattingly said. "We'll talk tomorrow."

Greinke has made four starts and pitched 12 2/3 innings. By comparison, Opening Day starter Clayton Kershaw has made five starts and thrown 19 1/3 innings.

Greinke had a hand in the best defensive play of the game, finishing a 3-6-1 double-play grounder by Joe Panik. On the other hand, two of the four runs charged against him scored when left fielder Carl Crawford dropped a high fly ball.

"I've pitched 12 innings and that's the first game I actually had guys behind me I'll be playing with in the regular season," he said. "One play, one good play so far. That's all I've seen."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.