Right-hander Zack Greinke, the Dodgers' $147-million man, left… (Paul Sancya / Associated…)
Hanley Ramirez doesn’t get to play much shortstop, Carl Crawford’s elbow flares up, Matt Kemp has a slow start, Chad Billingsley's groin is sore, Luis Cruz momentarily loses his mind … all concerns at some level, if not of the alarming variety.
But if the most expensive free agent in team history leaves the team to fly back to Los Angeles and have his elbow examined? That qualifies as a hold-your-breath moment.
Right-hander Zack Greinke, the Dodgers’ $147-million man, left spring training Monday morning and headed to have his tender elbow examined by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.
The Dodgers did their very best to wrap the move in every “precautionary” element possible. Manager Don Mattingly said Greinke already had come out clean from an MRI last week. The team’s official release called it “mild irritation” in the back of his elbow and the trip was made out of an “abundance of caution.”
All fine, all hopefully true, and for the Dodgers, all still real scary.
Greinke, 29, has no history of elbow problems, which is what every pitcher has said the first time bothered by a sore elbow.
He first started feeling something a week ago but missed his last scheduled start due to the flu. He threw a full bullpen session on Friday with Mattingly looking on and seemed fine, but when he threw next on Sunday he felt something again.
Mattingly told reporters in Phoenix it would be a “shocker” if something was seriously wrong. Best to keep those spirits up.
Greinke's next start will be determined by ElAttrache’s examination. Hopefully a little ice, a little rest and it passes. Worst thing that happens is the pitcher falls slightly behind his throwing schedule with three weeks still to go.
Still, when you have as much invested in Greinke as the Dodgers, it has to be unnerving. And a particularly good time to have eight starting pitchers still hanging around.
[Updated at 2:42 p.m. March 11: The Dodgers said after Greinke was examined by ElAttrache on Monday, he was diagnosed with an inflamed right elbow, given a platelet-rich plasma injection and anti-inflammatory medication.
He is scheduled to rest for two or three days, and then resume throwing.]
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