PHOENIX — — Zack Greinke said Wednesday that he should be ready to pitch in the opening week of the regular season, but the Dodgers braced themselves for the possibility that shortstop Hanley Ramirez could be lost for more than two months.
Ramirez was scheduled for an MRI exam on his right thumb, which he injured diving for a ball Tuesday night in the championship game of the World Baseball Classic.
The results of that exam, which weren't expected to be known until Thursday morning, could determine how the left side of the Dodgers' infield looks for the first several weeks of the season.
Manager Don Mattingly was informed of a wide range of possible scenarios by the team's medical staff.
"The optimistic side is … it's just a sprain and it's a couple weeks," Mattingly said. "The pessimistic side is it could be something major and it's more long-term, eight to 10 weeks."
Opening day is April 1.
"With all the positives of the WBC, this is just kind of one of the negatives," Mattingly said.
If Ramirez can't play, he will probably be replaced at shortstop by Luis Cruz, who played 23 games there last season. Cruz was scheduled to start at third base Wednesday in the Dodgers' exhibition game against Kansas City, but Mattingly moved him to shortstop.
If Cruz starts the season at shortstop, the Dodgers would probably rotate Jerry Hairston Jr., Juan Uribe and Nick Punto at third base.
Dee Gordon is also under consideration to replace Ramirez, which would allow Cruz to remain at third, his natural position. Gordon is listed as day to day because of a sprained ankle.
The news regarding Greinke was significantly more upbeat.
Pitching in a game for the first time in nearly three weeks because of a sore elbow, Greinke faced minor league players from the Chicago White Sox for four innings. Based on how he felt, Greinke said he expected to be ready for the start of the season.
"My arm felt really good today," he said. "It felt strong."
Greinke faced 13 batters and gave up a single, hit a batter and induced a double play. He threw 43 pitches.
"I wasn't perfect," he said. "You saw me upset with several pitches. But for the first outing in two weeks, that's kind of expected."
Greinke's last game had been March 1. He received an injection of platelet-rich plasma in his elbow last week and threw a bullpen session Sunday.
Greinke is scheduled to pitch twice more during the exhibition season, on March 25 and 30. He said that should be enough to build up his arm strength and gain the necessary sharpness to pitch in the regular season.
The way he is lined up, Greinke could make his first start of the season April 5 against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Greinke previously said he wouldn't rush back but made it clear Wednesday that he would like to take his first scheduled turn in the rotation.
"I like pitching," Greinke said. "I want to pitch 34 starts, the whole regular season. I don't want to miss one day."