When the Los Angeles Dodgers gave Zack Greinke a six-year, $147 million contract in December, they anticipated pairing him with ace Clayton Kershaw at the front of their rotation in what might be the best 1-2 combo in baseball.
However, those plans were muddied a little this spring with Greinke apparently dealing with a cranky elbow. After a Cactus League appearance March 1, the right-hander didn't pitch the next two-plus weeks. He an MRI on the elbow after complaining of discomfort following a throwing session, and he traveled from the Dodgers' spring camp to Los Angeles for an examination by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.
The doctor confirmed the MRI diagnosis of inflammation in the back of Greinke's elbow. Greinke said he didn't know what was causing the inflammation, but the Dodgers maintained there was no structural damage revealed by the MRI or examination. Greinke was given anti-inflammatory medication and a platelet-rich plasma injection -- a procedure in which blood is drawn from the patient, spun in a centrifuge to isolate the platelet-rich plasma and then re-injected into the injured area to promote healing. It is the same procedure Chad Billingsley went through twice last season in hopes of avoiding Tommy John surgery for a partially torn ligament in his elbow.
Greinke returned to the mound for a bullpen session March 17 in Arizona. The timetable for his return to the mound in game action was still undetermined, though it could come as soon as March 20. That would leave Greinke, who had made just two Cactus League starts, little time to build up arm strength and prepare for his anticipated Dodgers debut on April 2 against the Giants. His first regular-season start could be pushed back.
"We'll see how he comes out of this. That's the big thing," manager Don Mattingly said.
Greinke was non-committal regarding when he thinks he can be ready to make his first start of the regular season.
"I'm just doing what's laid out, to give us the best chance," Greinke said. "On our team, we have other starting pitchers, and we have to be ready.
"I just want to do what's best for the team. It's not important what day (I pitch)."