Zack Greinke will begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment on Friday night as he makes a start with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga, one day shy of four weeks after surgery to repair a broken collarbone. Scott Elbert, coming off a pair of elbow surgeries since last season, will also pitch for the Quakes on Friday, as he is expected to pitch an inning in relief as he starts his minor league rehab assignment.
Greinke is well ahead of the original diagnosis, that he would miss eight weeks after surgery, which would have put him in line for June 8 return. Greinke threw intense bullpen sessions of roughly 60 pitches each on both Saturday in San Francisco and Tuesday at Dodger Stadium, and was already throwing 90 mph.
"My normal bullpen session is 20 pitches at 75 percent," Greinke said on Tuesday. "This was nothing like a normal bullpen session for me."
Given that Greinke's bullpen sessions are usually much lighter than he threw on Saturday and Tuesday, those were almost like a simulated game or a pre-rehab start. In fact, Greinke said on Tuesday that he could step in and pitch four or five innings in a major league game if needed.
"I don't know how I'd be throwing over 100 pitches, but throwing 50-75 should be pretty easy at this point," Greinke said.
Manager Don Mattingly was cryptic on Wednesday when asked if Greinke was ready for a rehab assignment.
"Not that we're ready to talk about yet," Mattingly said. "We want to make sure everything is going in the right direction."
Well, it appears the right direction involves Greinke pitching for the Dodgers quite soon. Greinke on Friday lines up with Matt Magill in the Dodgers' rotation, so whenever Greinke is ready he can step right into that slot. Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times mentioned Wednesday against the Nationals as a possbility, which while aggressive doesn't seem too farfetched.