Notes: Greinke battling to regain old job
Right-hander looking to secure fifth-starter role this spring
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- There are no guarantees for Zack Greinke this March. His spot in the Royals rotation was written in granite in Spring Training 2005, but not in 2007.Greinke went 8-11 with a 3.97 ERA in 24 starts as a 20-year-old rookie, assuring him a spot in the 2005 rotation. Greinke, however, suffered through an American League-leading 17 losses in 2005. He left Spring Training for personal reasons in 2006 and spent most of the season with Double-A Wichita. Greinke, who is scheduled to throw three innings on Sunday against the Rangers, is a candidate for the No. 5 slot. Other applicants for the job include Brian Bannister, Joakim Soria and Todd Wellemeyer. "I've always come into Spring Training just trying to get ready for the season," Greinke said. "This year, I know I have to do good in order to make the team. It puts a little more pressure into the Spring Training, but the real goal is to get ready for the season. That is when it matters." It matters that Greinke has a good Spring Training in order to win a spot on the 12-man pitching staff. "I think I'm good enough, but I also have to prove that, too," he said. "If I go out there and pitch less than what I am capable of pitching, I probably shouldn't be on the team. I have to come out and do what I have to do in order to make it. I can't just go through the motions and make the team. I have to perform." Greinke went 2-2 with a 5.30 ERA in 2005 Spring Training, allowing 21 hits, walking six and hitting a batter in 18 2/3 innings. "It wasn't really going through the motions," Greinke said. "I was trying to figure some things out. I was 21. I didn't remember what worked and what didn't, so I think I was maybe a little too confident. And sometimes I thought I could throw a pitch, but I found out that Spring Training that I couldn't. I learned a lot that Spring Training. "I really didn't get to pitch much on my way up to the big leagues, so there are still things I had to try out to figure out if it worked or not. That Spring Training and that whole season helped me out a lot. "My game [on Sunday], I just want to locate my fastball better than I did in my last bullpen. I just want to control my fastball and have consistent break with my offspeed pitches and from there, try to get better each outing."
Grudzielanek hurt: Gold Glove second baseman Mark Grudzielanek went for a precautionary MRI on a sore knee on Saturday. He will not play on Sunday, as was previously planned."I'm not sure how serious it is or if he is going to play in the next couple of days or not," Bell said. Bullpen sessions: Joe Nelson and Joel Peralta threw off the mound with no problems on Saturday for the first time in more than a week. Nelson had been shelved with tightness in his right shoulder, while Peralta was hospitalized for two days and received a spinal tap after running a high temperature. Bell said Peralta is ahead of Nelson because Peralta was sick, while Nelson had an arm issue. "If everything goes all right, I'll throw in a game in eight to 10 days," Nelson said. Nelson and Peralta are kindred spirits, behind the other pitchers early in spring, but if they have no setbacks, the pair should be ready as relievers by the time the season opens. "Joel and I are on the same plan," Nelson said. "He's my partner. I don't want him to feel alone." Scott Elarton is scheduled to throw 45-50 pitches off the mound on Sunday, including breaking balls for the first time since having shoulder surgery in August. Short start: Odalis Perez retired only four of the 11 Rangers he faced in the Royals' 8-5 loss on Saturday. Perez allowed four runs on five hits and two walks, while striking out two, in 1 1/3 innings. "It is my first outing," Perez said. "I don't have any concerns. I'm healthy. I don't remember in Spring Training when I threw good. I don't ever remember having a good spring, even in the Minors." Said Bell: "It wasn't very effective, but he threw strikes and he's in good shape. He feels like his mechanics are pretty sound. That is basically where he was today. I'm sure he would have liked to have gone three innings, but it's a typical veteran Spring Training outing. I was pleased." Andres Blanco went 3-for-4 as the Royals collected 13 hits on Saturday. The Royals are now hitting .343 over their first three games. Mark Teahen and John Buck homered, while Billy Butler had a single and double. Sold out: The Royals announced on Saturday that their April 2 opener sold out that morning, the first day single-game tickets went on sale. "The response this morning at Kauffman Stadium, online at royals.com and on the phone has been tremendous," said Lance Buckley, senior director-tickets sales and services. "This is the best first day of sales for the Royals in over 15 years." Up next: Luke Hudson will start for the Royals against the Rangers at 2:05 p.m. CT on Sunday at Surprise Stadium. Greinke, Octavio Dotel and John Bale are also scheduled to pitch. Right-hander Brandon McCarthy will start for the Rangers.
Alan Eskew is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.