Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke will return to playing catch on Friday, but his status for opening day is in question. The club has explored "different scenarios" for the opening day roster should Greinke not be able to make his scheduled Apr. 2 start against the Giants.
"Will Zack be able to make opening day? We don't know that," said manager Don Mattingly on Thursday.
Mattingly said Thursday that Greinke will play catch on Friday, his first time picking up a baseball in a week. Greinke was scratched from his Monday start with elbow tightness and he flew to Los Angeles to meet with Dr. Neal ElAttrache. The diagnosis confirmed inflammation in Greinke's right elbow, but no structural damage to any ligaments or tendons.
"He wouldn't throw a pen until next week. Again, we'll see where it goes, and see how he feels. We're not going to force anything," Mattingly said. "We've got different scenarios that we've looked at that we don't need to guess at right now publicly, but there are different things we have looked at depending on how quickly he can go."
If Greinke can't even throw a bullpen session until next week, he would at most have two spring starts remaining before opening day, and the longest he has thrown so far is just three innings. Greinke last pitched on Mar. 1. Since then he was scratched once on Mar. 6 with the flu then scratched again on Monday when he flew to Los Angeles.
The way the Dodgers' schedule works out, they wouldn't need a fifth starter until Apr. 13, so they could theoretically put Greinke on the disabled list for the first 10 games of the season as he builds up his arm strength. Again, this is assuming everything goes well with Greinke beginning Friday.
Aaron Harang will start for the Dodgers on Friday night at Camelback Ranch against the Royals, while Stephen Fife starts the day game against the Padres in Peoria. Clayton Kershaw starts for the Dodgers on Saturday in Surprise against the Rangers, like Harang on five days rest. On Sunday, Hyun-jin Ryu will start on five days rest for the Dodgers at Salt River Fields against the Diamondbacks, and Ted Lilly will start the other split squad contest for the Dodgers, against the Brewers at Camelback Ranch.