Greinke faces Cubs in what he says was best outing of spring

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) Zack Greinke has one more spring start before he embarks on what he hopes is a bounce-back season for him and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

In an outing he described as ''solid,'' the right-hander went five innings plus two batters against the reigning World Series champion Chicago Cubs on Thursday, allowing three runs on six hits with four strikeouts and one walk.

''I was going a little slow early on but felt pretty strong out there today,'' Greinke said. ''I made a couple of mistakes but it was definitely the highest percentage of executed pitches so far.''

His biggest mistake came against Jake Arrieta, who homered on a 1-2 pitch in the third inning for the Cubs' first run.

''Not one of my better pitches,'' Greinke said.

He threw 83 pitches, 55 strikes.

''He had some great sequences,'' new Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. ''He was finishing off some hitters and the depth of his breaking ball was quality. He threw some quality change ups so I thought overall it was a very positive outing for Zack.''

Greinke was glad to face such a potent lineup.

''That was nice, I guess, nice when you do OK,'' he said. ''It would be bad if you gave up 10 runs - but some good hitters, good at bats and a deeper lineup.''

It was only the second major league team he has faced this spring. The other was 1 2-3 innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers in his first appearance.

His other outings have come against Mexico, a minor league club and The Netherlands.

Greinke will be Arizona's opening day starter a week from Sunday at home against Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants.

Greinke, signed to a six-year, $206.5 million contract before last season, went 13-7 with a 4.37 ERA in 2016, battling injuries along the way as the Diamondbacks got off to an awful start and finished next-to-last in the NL West.

That followed his phenomenal 2015 season with the Dodgers, when he was 19-3 with a 1.66 ERA.

Greinke, known for his command, not his pitching speed, was able to maintain the velocity of his fastball at 91 mph throughout his appearance on Thursday, hitting 92 at times.

His velocity hadn't been that high early in the spring but had shown improvement lately.

''I know he wasn't concerned about it,'' Lovullo said before the game. ''It's a series of steps for him where he wants to lock down his command and the velocity comes along with that, comes along shortly after that. It was good to see that things are improving. Had we had these conversations in mid-June I might be a little bit more concerned, but he's exactly where we want him to be.''

Greinke is the only pitcher who has been announced for the Diamondbacks' rotation, but Lovullo promised his decision on the others will be coming soon.

Greinke's last spring outing is scheduled to be next Tuesday against Seattle.

''It would be nice to have another one even better next outing,'' he said, ''and do what I can to keep it moving forward.''

Notes: The crowd of 14,002, loaded with Cubs fans, was a record for the Diamondbacks' Salt River Fields. ... Jake Lamb hit a two-run, opposite-field home run off Arrieta. .. Arrieta, the Cubs' opening day pitcher, went five innings plus a batter, allowing three runs on eight hits, with four strikeouts and no walks.

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More MLB coverage: https://www.apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

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