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Big League Stew

Spring Headlines: Zack Greinke excellent in return outing; Chone Figgins released by Marlins

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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(USA Today)

That loud noise you heard resonating from the Los Angeles and Phoenix areas respectively was a resounding sigh of relief from Dodgers fans, coaches and their front office after Zack Greinke’s highly successful return to the mound on Wednesday.

The 29-year-old right-hander, who signed a six-year, $147 million contract during the offseason, had a platelet-rich plasma injection in his right elbow back on March 11 after being diagnosed with inflammation. That put his status for his first scheduled regular season start in serious doubt, but Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times says he's on a much better track now after reporting no ill-effects in his outing against White Sox minor league hitters.

[Also: A-Rod, Braun main targets of MLB's probe of Biogenesis clinic]

Encouraged by how his elbow felt Wednesday in his first game in nearly three weeks, Zack Greinke said he thought he could be ready to pitch at the start of the regular season.

“I hope so,” Greinke said. “My arm felt really good today. It felt strong.”

Greinke faced Chicago White Sox minor league players for four innings, throwing 43 pitches and facing one batter more than the minimum. He gave up a single, hit a batter and induced a double play.

“I wasn’t perfect,” he said. “You saw me upset with several pitches. But first outing in two weeks, that’s kind of expected.”

The Dodgers open against the defending champion San Francisco Giants on April 1 with Clayton Kershaw already set to match up against Matt Cain. Hernandez speculates the Dodgers may actually line up the rotation so Greinke opens their following series against the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 5. But that's all dependent on how the elbow holds up over the next two weeks.

Will Chone Figgins throw in the towel?:

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(AP)

[Also: Dodgers' Hanley Ramirez to miss eight weeks with thumb injury | Fantasy spin]

Probably not, but the 35-year-old infielder’s road to a major league roster took a major detour on Wednesday after the Miami Marlins released him. It's the second release for Figgins this offseason. The Seattle Mariners did so as well back in November (eating his $8 million salary in the process) before he latched on with Miami on a minor league deal.

Though he hit a respectable .308 in 11 spring training games, Tom D’Angelo of the Palm Beach Post says it was Figgins’ struggles in the field that ultimately cost him a shot at a backup infield position. They're now looking at Nick Green, Chris Valaika and Kevin Kouzmanoff for the two remaining spots.

As for Figgins' next move, he’ll be back out looking for another minor league deal somewhere. He still offers well above average speed for his age, versatility and experience, so someone will likely stash him. But he will probably struggle to be anything more than a stopgap for an organization depleted by injuries or an extra body in September.

Tommy Hanson day-to-day: The Dodgers weren't the only Los Angeles team holding their breath on Wednesday. A little ways down the road — or around the bend in Cactus League geography — Angels fans were as well after recently acquired right-hander Tommy Hanson was forced to leave his start early after experience tightness in his right triceps.

[Also: Derek Jeter could start the season on the DL]

There appears to be good news, though, as Yahoo! Sports own Jeff Passan — who was on the scene in Tempe and spoke to Hanson following his exit — tweeted the following update.

Hanson is officially listed as day-to-day, though given the way he's struggled this spring and the way other day-to-day injuries have quickly become week-to-week situations, it's easy to understand why there's still some lingering concern here.

Other pitchers ailing: If your fantasy drafts are this weekend we have a couple more pitchers you can slide down the rankings.

The first is New York Mets starter Shawn Marcum, who Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports had a cortisone shot for an impingement in his right shoulder. His opening day status is now up in the air, meaning New York could be without Marcum and Johan Santana both when camp breaks next week.

[Baseball 2013 from Yahoo! Fantasy Sports: Join a league today!]

And in an update to what Dave Brown wrote regarding John Danks' status in Wednesday's Spring Headlines, Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura says it's likely his left-hander will have to begin the season on the disabled list as he works his way back from August shoulder surgery.

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