Right-hander Zack Greinke, the Dodgers' $147-million man, left… (Paul Sancya / Associated…)
PHOENIX – Zack Greinke made it through five innings of his first spring with the Dodgers before they sent him for an MRI examination. That is a red flag for any pitcher, let alone the one with the $147-million contract that makes him the highest-paid right-hander in baseball history.
The Dodgers exhaled on Monday, after Greinke was diagnosed with inflammation in his right elbow. Manager Don Mattingly said he expects Greinke to be available for his first regular-season start April 2, although the Dodgers could grant him extra rest since they do not need five starters until April 13.
Greinke complained of elbow discomfort last week, and an MRI did not show any structural damage. When he reported renewed irritation in the elbow while throwing Sunday, the Dodgers scratched him from his scheduled Monday start and sent him to Los Angeles to see team physician Neal ElAttrache, just to be cautious.
"When the guy signs the deal he signs, it goes into ultra-cautious," Mattingly said.
ElAttrache did not order a new MRI exam, instead prescribing anti-inflammatory medication, an injection of platelet-rich plasma to accelerate healing, and two or three days of rest. Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said Greinke would have to complete at least one bullpen session before returning to Cactus League action.
Mattingly said the diagnosis should put Greinke at ease.
"It relieves your mind, and maybe ours," Mattingly said.
The Dodgers have eight starters in camp, with Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang and Ted Lilly all available in trade. No deal is close, however, because of the uncertainty of Greinke's condition and the hope of other teams that an end-of-spring roster logjam could force the Dodgers to eat most — if not all — of a contract in a trade.
Luis Cruz had a three-word answer to explain his behavior in the World Baseball Classic.
"I lost it," Cruz said.
Cruz repeated those words eight times during a brief interview Monday, as he and Adrian Gonzalez rejoined the Dodgers following Mexico's elimination from the WBC.
Cruz appeared to instigate a fight by signaling for Mexico pitcher Arnold Leon to throw at Canada's Rene Tosoni. Leon threw two pitches near Tosoni, then a third pitch that hit Tosoni. Cruz threw at least two punches in the ensuing fight.
Cruz declined to apologize to the Canadians.
"I'm not saying that," he said. "I'm just saying I lost it and I am ready to move on and I've got to be ready for the season."
Dodgers President Stan Kasten said season-ticket sales have topped 30,000, an ongoing record. Under the O'Malley family ownership, the Dodgers capped season-ticket sales at 27,000. Kasten said the Dodgers would halt the sale of season tickets at an unspecified point.
Kasten also said most — but not all — of the Dodger Stadium renovations announced in January would be completed by the time the Dodgers play host to the Angels in a Freeway Series exhibition March 29. The Dodgers plan to announce details shortly, he said.