SURPRISE, Ariz. — Zack Greinke’s elbow was fine. His control was not.
The high-priced Dodgers pitcher struggled through his first Cactus League start in 3½ weeks, and Los Angeles was beaten by the Kansas City Royals 8-2 on Monday night.
Greinke gave up five runs and six hits over three-plus innings in his first major league outing since March 1. The right-hander, who won the 2009 AL Cy Young Award with Kansas City, signed a $147 million, six-year contract to join the Dodgers in the offseason but has been slowed this spring by a sore elbow and the flu.
Greinke threw 40 of 64 pitches for strikes. He walked the first three batters in the fourth and was replaced by Matt Guerrier, who allowed all three to score.
“I felt strong still, but obviously I must not have been. Walking three in a row, that’s not normal,” Greinke said. “I thought I felt good, but the results didn’t imply that the last inning. It tells me I’ve got some work to do and build up arm strength. I’ve got to fine-tune some off-speed stuff. If the arm strength is there, I can make it work. That’s the No. 1 most important thing.”
Greinke said his elbow felt fine. He is scheduled to pitch Saturday against the Los Angeles Angels, another former team, and if all goes well he believes his arm strength will be sufficient to make his regular-season Dodgers debut April 5 against Pittsburgh.
“It will definitely be there for a while,” Greinke said. “We’ll see if I build up some endurance with it and can go 100 pitches, because that’s the goal. It felt good tonight, but it needs some improvement.”
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was ejected in the seventh by plate umpire Anthony Johnson for coming out after slugger Matt Kemp was called out on strikes.
Royals right-hander Wade Davis allowed two runs, one earned, on four hits and three walks in five innings. Salvador Perez had a two-run double in the first.
Kansas City improved to 22-6-1, matching the team record for spring training wins set with a 22-9 mark in 1999. The Royals, who lead the Cactus League with a .334 batting average, had 15 hits.
Alex Gordon and Alcides Escobar, the first two batters Greinke faced, singled and scored on Perez’s two-out double.
Greinke walked Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain and Jeff Francoeur to start the fourth.
“I was mad about the 3-2 pitch to Hosmer and the 3-2 pitch to Cain,” Greinke said. “On 3-2 you can’t make them that bad, where they can’t even offer at it. Those two were awful pitches. Francoeur had an at-bat you don’t expect from him. I was trying to throw close pitches and I was and he was taking them.”
Greinke’s fastball reached 94 mph.
Young effective in likely Nationals farewell
KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) — Chris Young says he wants to remain with the Washington Nationals. Manager Davey Johnson says he’d like Young to stay, too.
But when the right-hander removed his Nationals jersey Monday night after tossing four innings without allowing an earned run in a 6-4 loss to the Houston Astros, he assumed he had just pitched his last game for Washington.
Young has a clause in his minor league contract that allows him to opt out Tuesday if he’s not added to the big league roster. With the Nationals’ rotation already set, he is expected to go elsewhere.
“I think it was my best game of the spring,” Young said. “If this were a normal spring I would be just where I want to be. But this isn’t the normal spring.”
The 6-foot-10 right-hander, who pitched for the New York Mets the past two seasons, struck out two while allowing two hits and one unearned run.
Young said he knows there is interest from other clubs, but he’d like to stay in Washington if something could be worked out.
“I have to weigh my options,” he said. “I love it here and this spring has been terrific. I have nothing that isn’t good to say about Washington except that they have about 15 great pitchers already.”
Young said he assumes he’ll be pitching somewhere in the major leagues in five days.
HRs by Zobrist, Longoria help Rays top Pirates 6-2
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (AP) — Even for an established star like Evan Longoria, the first home run of the year is always a relief.
Longoria and Ben Zobrist each hit a two-run shot in a four-run fifth inning that carried the Tampa Bay Rays past the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-2 on Monday night.
Zobrist’s go-ahead shot appeared to be helped over the fence by right fielder Jose Tabata’s outstretched glove. Longoria’s drive was a no-doubter.
“Yeah, it’s good to get that out of the way,” Longoria said. “The wind usually blows dead in from left here, so I don’t put too much emphasis on the ballpark that way.”
Russell Martin had two hits for the Pirates, including an RBI double. Gaby Sanchez walked three times and scored a run.
Shelley Duncan, in the running to be a right-handed bat off the Tampa Bay bench, hit a solo home run and added a double. Rays starter Matt Moore labored through 4 2-3 wild innings, allowing only two earned runs but yielding six hits and five walks.
Young hits slam, Colon goes 5 as A’s beat Brewers PHOENIX (AP) — Kyle Lohse is joining Milwaukee’s pitching staff at just the right time. It appears the Brewers can use the help.
Chris Young hit a grand slam and Josh Donaldson homered among his four hits as the Oakland Athletics backed Bartolo Colon with a big offensive performance in a 9-7 victory over Milwaukee on Monday.
Brewers starter Chris Narveson served up Young’s slam in the fourth. The left-hander allowed six runs on eight hits in 3 2-3 innings.
Five days after giving up only one hit in six scoreless innings against San Francisco, Narveson walked five and fell to 1-2 with a 5.50 ERA this spring.
Asked what the difference was between Monday’s outing and Narveson’s previous start, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said: “Command of the ball. He walked five people and you can’t do that.”
“His stuff was OK, but he wasn’t consistent with it. He had trouble getting in rhythm. He would pitch well to one batter and not so well to the next two,” he added.
Roenicke is looking forward to adding Lohse to an uncertain rotation. The free-agent right-hander finalized a $33 million, three-year contract with Milwaukee on Monday after going 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA for NL Central rival St. Louis last season.
The move came exactly a week before the Brewers open the season at home against Colorado. Lohse is expected to pitch Thursday against the Rockies in a Cactus League game, though his regular-season debut for Milwaukee could be delayed until mid-April as he gets his arm in shape.
“We are better with Lohse,” Roenicke said. “I like our other starters very much, but Lohse is a special guy.”
Scott Sizemore had four hits and two RBIs for the A’s. Colon gave up three runs and six hits over five innings in his third start and fifth appearance of the spring. He struck out three and walked none.
Colon will sit out the first five games of the season while completing his 50-game suspension for a positive drug test last year.
Miller earns rotation spot, helps Cards top Twins
FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — A shaky afternoon on the mound quickly became a most memorable day for Shelby Miller.
The 22-year-old rookie pitched into the fifth inning, then found out he’d won the fifth spot in the St. Louis rotation as the Cardinals beat the Minnesota Twins 4-3 Monday.
Miller gave up one run and six hits in 4 1-3 innings. He struck out two and walked two.
After the game, manager Mike Matheny said Miller would be a starter. Joe Kelly, who also had been competing for the No. 5 slot, will make the roster as a long reliever.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity,” said Miller, a first-round draft pick in 2009. “I’m humbled. It’s an unbelievable feeling.”
“I’m still kind of taking it all in. To be the fifth starter for any team is amazing. To be playing for the St. Louis Cardinals is different. It’s one of the best-respected organizations in baseball. I’m looking forward to the opportunity I have. I’m playing behind some of the best players in the league,” he said.
Miller has a spring ERA of 3.94. Kelly gave up two runs and two hits in two innings, bringing his spring ERA to 5.54.
“I was definitely struggling early,” Miller said. “I definitely didn’t have my best stuff at all. I still battled.”
Miller made his big league debut last year and went 1-0 with a 1.32 ERA in six games. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound righty said he took a different approach this past offseason.
“I made a goal to put on a lot of muscle and weight and come in with a different body,” Miller said. “I feel like I did that. I’m trying to do the little things right to try and make me a better pitcher.”
Matheny said even after Miller’s worst outing of spring training that he deserved the fifth spot.
“We explained to him in a year’s time the maturing in his game and as a person — it’s just off the charts,” Matheny said. “He’s trending in a great direction. He just has to keep that going. There’s a bright future for him. Remember what got him to this point.”
Miller earned his first big league win during a call-up from the minors late last season. He was 11-10 with a 4.74 ERA in 27 starts at Triple-A Memphis, striking out 160 in 136 2-3 innings.”