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Short start could alter Dodgers plans for Zack Greinke

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Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Zack Greinke had a rough time in his fourth start of spring, unable to finish the fourth inning in the Dodgers' 8-4 loss to the Giants on Friday night. The results themselves don't matter much, but at issue is Greinke getting stretched out enough to be ready for the regular season.

Greinke threw 76 pitches in his 3⅔ innings on Friday, allowing four runs (two earned) on five hits, with two walks and three strikeouts.

"Usually it's one or two pitches struggling," Greinke said. "Today it was all of them."

It was his fourth start of a late-starting camp for Greinke, who had a lubricating injection in his right elbow in February that put him one start behind his cohorts in the rotation. Clayton Kershaw, Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson will have had six spring starts under their before the regular season, while Greinke will have five.

"I've done enough that I should be ready. If I'm not, it's not because of lack of innings," Greinke said. "It's just not getting ready fast enough. I should be good by the time the season starts."

The Dodgers like their starters to stretch out to 90 or so pitches in a start before the regular season. But in addition to the pitch count, the pitchers need to stretch out as well by pitching deeper into games. Greinke's longest outing this spring was his four innings on March 21 in San Antonio against the Rangers.

"The pitch count was okay Just the ups and downs we're worried about a little bit," manager Don Mattingly said. "I'm confident that he's going to be ready, it's just at what level? We have a chance to make it up in a couple different ways."

Though Mattingly wouldn't elaborate without first talking to Greinke, one of those ways could be a minor league start for Greinke next Wednesday on regular rest, which would allow Greinke to pitch in a more controlled environment, where he could get "up and down" for six innings regardless of how the game goes.

The other option would be to start the opening game of the Freeway Series next Thursday night in Anaheim. No matter the path the Dodgers choose, the plan is for Greinke to start the second game of the regular season on Tuesday, April 7 against the Padres.

"We'll talk to Zack before we go anywhere," Mattingly said. "There are a couple different options."