Ro­ta­tion in need of pos­i­tive spin

Greinke’s strong ef­fort aside, Dodgers’ start­ing crew is un­set­tled, and un­set­tling

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Dy­lan Her­nan­dez

Zack Greinke hasn’t com­plained of any el­bow prob­lems for the last sev­eral weeks.

The Dodgers right-han­der cer­tainly pitched as if noth­ing was wrong Tues­day night, when he made his sea­son de­but in what be­came a 7-3 loss to the San Diego Padres at Dodger Sta­dium. He was charged with a run in the first in­ning when Carl Craw­ford mis­played a ball in left field, but oth­er­wise blanked the Padres, whom he held hit­less over the next five innings.

The Dodgers led, 2-1, when he left, but it was 3-3 go­ing into the ninth, where­upon the Padres scored four times.

As dom­i­nant as Greinke was for the six innings he was on the mound, th­ese re­main un­set­tling times for the Dodgers and their ro­ta­tion.

Greinke didn’t have a com­pletely nor­mal spring train­ing, which, in it­self, shouldn’t be a rea­son for con­cern.

He ex­pe­ri­enced some dis­com­fort in his arm in his first camp with the Dodgers, but made 28 starts in 2013. If not for the bro­ken col­lar­bone he suf­fered in his sec­ond start of that sea­son, he would have made more.

He was side­lined with a strained calf last spring, but went on to make 32 regular-sea­son starts.

At the start of camp this year, Greinke re­ceived what was de­scribed as a lu­bri­cat­ing in­jec­tion in his right el­bow — the same el­bow that de­layed a start in Au­gust last sea­son by two days. How­ever, once he re­sumed throw­ing, he main­tained a nor­mal pro­gram, which, un­der most cir­cum­stances, would make his health no more of a con­cern than any­one else’s.

But th­ese aren’t nor­mal cir­cum­stances, as the team’s new front of­fice has gam­bled the for­tunes of a $270-mil­lion ros­ter on a ro­ta­tion that could be un­der con­stant threat of break­ing down.

Sud­denly, Greinke’s re­li­a­bil­ity isn’t some­thing that can be taken for granted. It’s es­sen­tial.

Al­ready, Hyun-Jin Ryu is on the dis­abled list with shoul­der in­flam­ma­tion. Ryu landed on the dis­abled list twice last sea­son with the same is­sue.

On Tues­day, Ryu played catch for the first time since he was shut down two weeks ago. But there’s no in­di­ca­tion the Dodgers have iden­ti­fied the ex­act source of Ryu’s dis­com­fort, which has some in­sid­ers won­der­ing if the prob­lem will re­turn once he re­sumes pitch­ing.

“I’m con­cerned about him,” Manager Don Mat­tingly ac­knowl­edged. “I’m con­cerned about ev­ery­one, hon­estly.” He should be. Bran­don McCarthy has pitched 200 innings in a sea­son only once in his ca­reer and that was last year. Brett An­der­son has pitched fewer than 100 innings in each of the last four sea­sons.

“I just look at the other side of that,” Mat­tingly said. “I look at the up­side. You see Brett throw­ing the way he’s ca­pa­ble of. That’s No. 1-, No. 2-type stuff. The same with Bran­don.”

The bets the Dodgers have placed on McCarthy and An­der­son were care­fully cal­cu­lated. They at­trib­uted McCarthy’s break­out sea­son to a new strength pro­gram that was said to re­duce pres­sure on a once-prob­lem­atic shoul­der blade.

In An­der­son’s case, they ob­served how the left-han­der’s re­cent in­juries weren’t arm-re­lated.

“You know the up­side and you know the down­side,” Mat­tingly said. “Cer­tain things you can’t con­trol.”

Greinke’s per­for­mance Tues­day night of­fered rea­sons to be op­ti­mistic. The All-Star looked like the same pitcher who was a com­bined 32-12 with a 2.68 earned-run av­er­age over the pre­vi­ous two sea­sons, if not bet­ter.

Greinke gave up a two-out sin­gle to for­mer team­mate Matt Kemp, who scored when Justin Up­ton hit a liner to left field that evaded the glove of a slid­ing Craw­ford. Up­ton’s would-be sin­gle was scored as a triple and he was cred­ited with a run bat­ted in.

Up­ton was stranded on third base, as Greinke struck out Will Mid­dle­brooks to end the in­ning.

Over the next five innings, only two Padres reached base.

The first, Alexi Amarista, was the ben­e­fi­ciary of an er­ror by short­stop Jimmy Rollins.

The other, Kemp, drew a twoout walk in the sixth in­ning.

‘You know the up­side and you know the down­side. Cer­tain things you can’t con­trol.’

—Don Mat­tingly,

Dodgers manager, on un­cer­tain­ties sur­round­ing team’s start­ing pitch­ing

Gina Fer­azzi Los An­ge­les Times

ROUGH-AND-TUM­BLE base­ball pays off for Adrian Gon­za­lez as he breaks up a po­ten­tial dou­ble play by mak­ing Padres short­stop Alexi Amarista lose the ball in the fourth. Gon­za­lez hit a ty­ing homer in eighth.

Gina Fer­azzi Los An­ge­les Times

A DOU­BLE by Yasiel Puig jump-started Dodgers’ of­fense in the sixth. Adrian Gon­za­lez drove him in with a dou­ble to tie it, 1-1.

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