Lots of buzz in Arizona with Greinke taking mound vs Rockies
PHOENIX (AP) There hasn't been this kind of buzz around an Arizona Diamondbacks opener since Hall of Famer Randy Johnson glared down from the mound years ago.
Zack Greinke, who stunned many in baseball by signing a $206.5 million, six-year contract with Arizona, has immediately elevated the Diamondbacks' to a team to be reckoned with. He will begin plying his trade at about $10,000 per pitch on Monday night when Arizona faces the Colorado Rockies.
This is only Greinke's second opening day start following an outing for Kansas City in 2010. In his recent years with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he pitched behind Clayton Kershaw.
Geinke, 19-3 with a major league-best 1.66 ERA last season last season, is not one to be affected by the pomp of the moment.
''I just think about when I'm making good pitches,'' Greinke said, ''just trying to focus on making sure all of my pitches are working, and that's about it.''
He had a similar reaction to questions about his contract and expectations.
''I don't try to wrap my mind around it,'' Greinke said. ''I mean, it doesn't cross my mind ever, really.''
He said when he signed that he had always admired the aggressive, hard-working style of play he saw from last season's Diamondbacks. Now, he's even more impressed.
''It's probably more than I even imagined,'' Greinke said. ''I mean, it's really impressive the stuff that guys do around here, and it's like every single one of them, too. It's not just a couple.''
Colorado's lineup features Nolan Arenado, the 24-year-old slugger who hit a major league-best .542 (32 for 59) during spring training with nine doubles, six homers and 17 RBIs. He struck out just six times.
''He can hit every pitch. That's probably the toughest part,'' Greinke said. ''Every pitch in every location - there's not many guys that can do that. I don't know how he did it. It seems like he's figured out how to hit the ball in the air more and not strike out and still has power. It's like the perfect combination.''
Arenado led the National League in home runs last season (41) and the majors in RBIs (130).
''The amount of power, the 40-plus home runs, I didn't see that coming quite yet,'' Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. ''I thought he'd be 20-something homers. Obviously, he surpassed that. But nothing really surprises me with the kid. `'
Left-hander Jorge De La Rosa will start for Colorado in his second opening-day appearance following a loss for Miami two years ago. He was 9-7 with a 4.17 ERA for the Rockies last season. It's his second opening day appearance.
''It's an honor for me, to start the first game,'' De La Rosa said. `I have to be calmer than I was the last time.''
The Diamondbacks had the best record in the majors in spring training but their optimism took a severe hit when All-Star center fielder A.J. Pollock fractured his right elbow in a head-first slide at home in an exhibition game against Kansas City on Friday night.
That's a big loss on defense, where Pollock won a Gold Glove, and on offense, where he was scheduled to bat one spot ahead of All-Star slugger Paul Goldschmidt.
Manager Chip Hale plans to use middle infielder Chris Owings in center quite a bit, especially against left-handed pitchers.
Owings, who said he hadn't played in center field since he was 11 or 12, made some nice catches there and hit a home run against Kansas City in an exhibition on Saturday.
The other principal center fielder will be Socrates Brito, who has a promising array of talents as well as one of the best names in baseball.
''It's really a big loss for us, losing A.J. right now,'' right fielder David Peralta said, ''but there's nothing we can do. Things happen. We've got to step up. We've got to keep going. ... This is not going to stop us.''