Arizona Diamondbacks ace Zack Greinke comments on his side session to minor leaguers at Salt River Fields on Mar. 13, 2017. By Rob Schumacher/azcentral sports
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Diamondbacks lefty Patrick Corbin gave up three runs in 3 1/3 innings against the White Sox but came away sounding upbeat. Video: Nick Piecoro/azcentral sports
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Right-hander Taijuan Walker struck out eight in four scoreless innings for the Diamondbacks on Friday vs. the Brewers.
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Diamondbacks right-hander Zack Greinke’s fastball was in the upper-80s on Wednesday at Salt River Fields.
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Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller lasted 2 2/3 innings against the A’s, giving up six runs, on Tuesday. Scott Bordow/azcentral sports
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Arizona Diamondbacks RHP Taijuan Walker gave up just one hit in three scoreless innings against the White Sox on Sunday, Mar. 5, 2017. (Nick Piecoro/azcentral sports)
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Diamondbacks starter Patrick Corbin, who is vying for a spot in the rotation, gave up two runs in three innings against the Padres on Saturday in Peoria.
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Diamondbacks right-handed Shelby Miller talks about his impressive outing vs. the Cubs. Miller struck out six in three innings.
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Diamondbacks right-hander Archie Bradley tossed three scoreless innings in his second start of spring training.
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Diamondbacks lefty Robbie Ray was upbeat despite walking three in 1 1/3 innings on Wednesday. Nick Piecoro/azcentral sports
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USA TODAY Sports’ Bob Nightengale breaks down the story lines to follow as spring training heats up.
USA TODAY Sports
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Diamondbacks right-hander Taijuan Walker talks about his outing on Tuesday against the Texas Rangers in Surprise. Nick Piecoro/azcentral sports
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Here are some longtime favorites about America’s favorite pastime.
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The MLB is changing up the intentional walk in an effort to improve the pace of play.
USA TODAY Sports
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The Brewers by position: Bullpen
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USA TODAY Sports has released its projected win totals for the 2017 MLB season.
USA TODAY Sports
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USA TODAY Sports released its annual list of players to watch for in the upcoming season.
USA TODAY Sports
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MLB commissioner Rob Manfred spoke about his frustration with the MLBPA, which he said rebuffed the league’s efforts to make any of a number of rules changes at Tuesday’s Cactus League Media Day at the Biltmore. Thomas Hawthorne/azcentral sports
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The Diamondbacks’ Ken Kendrick discusses the team’s lawsuit with the Maricopa County Stadium District over over Chase Field maintenance costs at spring-training camp on Friday.
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Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo discusses star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and his new team’s foundation at Cactus League Media Day at the Arizona Biltmore on Tuesday. Thomas Hawthorne/azcentral sports
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The Diamondbacks had their photos taken on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017 at Salt River Fields.
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Cubs manager Joe Maddon discusses how difficult it is to win back-to-back championships in the MLB on Tuesday at Cactus League Media Day at the Arizona Biltmore on Tuesday. Thomas Hawthorne/azcentral sports
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Cubs manager Joe Maddon discusses how to prepare for this season in regards to overworking and injuries after last season’s championship run at Cactus League Media Day at the Arizona Biltmore on Tuesday. Thomas Hawthorne/azcentral sports
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The Arizona Diamondbacks hosted fans to celebrate the start of spring training and the 2017 season at D-Backs Fan Fest at Salt River Fields on Monday. Hannah Gaber/azcentral.com
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Diamondbacks closer Fernando Rodney tosses a bullpen session at Salt River Fields.
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There are several MLB teams looking for new stadiums, while at least two are happy with their old-school dwellings.
USA TODAY Sports
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Diamondbacks right-hander Taijuan Walker throws his first official bullpen session of spring training at Salt River Fields on Tuesday. Nick Piecoro/azcentral sports
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Diamondbacks pitcher Shelby Miller tosses his first bullpen of the spring at Salt River Fields on Tuesday. Nick Piecoro/azcentral sports
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Ron Gardenhire, Arizona Diamondbacks bench coach, annouced on Tuesday that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer at the team’s spring training complex at Salt River Fields. Manager Torey Lovullo also spoke. Video: Rob Schumacher/azcentral sports
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Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo on what he sees in his team and pitcher Shelby Miller heading into the first days of spring training at Salt River Fields. Rob Schumacher/azcentral sports
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D-Backs pitcher Archie Bradley, sporting facial hair that he has not shaved since October 31st, reports to spring training camp in Scottsdale. (Rob Schumacher/azcentral sports)
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D-Backs skipper Torey Lovullo press conference at spring training camp in Scottsdale. (Rob Schumacher/azcentral sports)
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D-Backs pitcher Patrick Corbin reports to spring training camp in Scottsdale. (Rob Schumacher/azcentral sports)
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Diamondbacks right-hander Archie Bradley talks about the excitement of getting spring training started, saying “I couldn’t sleep last night.” Video: Nick Piecoro/azcentral sports
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The Diamondbacks have faced tough seasons and payroll limitations, and it might cost them a beloved franchise player. Hannah Gaber/azcentral.com
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Proliferation of young talent in the game provides an abundance of inexpensive options to stock a roster.
USA TODAY Sports
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Are the Arizona Diamondbacks right to sue Maricopa County over Chase Field? Columnist E.J. Montini says no.
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With the longest championship drought in American professional sports, the Cubs have seen a lot change since they last won the World Series, in 1908.
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Zack Greinke comments on his throwing session
Diamondbacks’ Patrick Corbin after spring outing vs. White Sox
Taijuan Walker after latest dominant start for D-Backs
Zack Greinke on his diminished velocity in start vs. Mexico
Shelby Miller discusses latest start
D-Backs’ Taijuan Walker on his latest strong outing
D-Backs lefty Patrick Corbin after spring outing vs. Padres
Shelby Miller on his outing vs. Cubs
Archie Bradley on strong outing vs. Padres
Robbie Ray on his spring training debut
Spring training story lines to watch
Taijuan Walker throws two innings in spring debut
Some things about Spring Training season just haven’t changed…
MLB changing intentional walks for 2017
Just the FAQs: Brewers at bullpen
Projecting the 2017 MLB season
MLB’s 100 Names to Know for 2017
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on rule changes, MLBPA cooperation
Diamondbacks’ Ken Kendrick discusses team’s lawsuit
D-Backs manager Torey Lovullo on Goldschmidt, team’s core
Behind the scenes at Diamondbacks Photo Day
Cubs’ Joe Maddon on why it’s difficult to repeat
Cubs’ Joe Maddon on this season’s preparation
A look at Diamondbacks Fan Fest 2017
Closer Fernando Rodney throws bullpen session
Baseball stadiums on the way out or in danger of extinction
Taijuan Walker throws bullpen session at Salt River Fields
Shelby Miller throws bullpen session at Salt River Fields
D-Backs bench coach Ron Gardenhire diagnosed with prostate cancer
D-Backs manager Lovullo on getting started, Shelby Miller
D-Backs pitcher Archie Bradley talks about his beard
D-Backs skipper Torey Lovullo press conference
D-Backs pitcher Patrick Corbin reports to spring training camp in Scottsdale
Diamondbacks’ pitcher Archie Bradley: “New year. New team. New everything. We’re excited.”
D-Backs near crossroads with Goldschmidt
The best MLB lineup realistic money can buy
Montini: Diamondbacks’ lawsuit is one big error
Cubs, coffee and cars: How things have changed since the North Siders last won the World Series
With most deliveries accompanied by his customary grunts, Zack Greinke threw four fastballs at 91 mph in the first inning on Monday morning. He hit 90 mph three times in the second.
But the Diamondbacks’ ace did not throw a fastball that exceeded 89 mph after that, and later he refused to answer questions about his velocity, despite having thrown well, giving up just two hits in five innings against minor-leaguers in an instrasquad game at Salt River Fields.
“I don’t know,” Greinke said. “I mean, the first time, it’s an interesting story. I’m not going to answer velocity questions every time the whole season. I mean, you’ve got to pick and choose your times you ask me about that.”
CACTUS LEAGUE: Coverage from azcentral sports and ASU’s Cronkite School
Greinke might not want to talk about it, but that won’t prevent it from being a topic, at least until he shows either he’s capable of throwing harder or that he’s able to succeed despite it.
Both outcomes are entirely possible. With a little less than three weeks to go until Opening Day, Greinke might still be building arm strength. His peak velocity of 91 mph was a bit higher Monday than in his previous start, but his average of 88.1 mph was still in the same range as last time, and he dropped to 86-88 mph in his final two innings.
“To be honest with you, I think he’s right where he needs to be at this point in spring training,” pitching coach Mike Butcher said. “Velocity comes. It’s not like you can manufacture it or make it any better this early. I think by the time we get to where we need to be, he’s going to be where he needs to be.”
Greinke, though, is 33 years old. As it happens with nearly every pitcher, his velocity has dropped steadily throughout his career. Last season, according to FanGraphs, he averaged 91.3 mph with his fastball, about half of a mile-an-hour lower than it had been the previous three seasons. He also is coming off a season that ended prematurely due to what the team called a minor shoulder issue.
Greinke has the sort of attributes that scouts have long thought would allow him age gracefully. He has never been overly reliant on velocity. He often exhibits pinpoint command. He has a deep repertoire of secondary pitches. And he possesses a high degree of pitching acumen.
His performance on Monday – albeit against minor-leaguers, most of whom would not be labeled “prospects” by scouts – was evidence of how he can locate his pitches and change speeds to generate outs. After allowing back-to-back hits to start the game, Greinke retired the final 14 batters he faced.
“Each outing (in spring training) has gotten a little better, which is good,” Greinke said. “A lot of times I’ll take a step back and one of the outings just goes really bad, but so far it’s been better with each start. … I guess I don’t know how good it was, the results were good, though. It makes you feel like you did good. I felt like I did all right and the results were good.”
While there are many pitchers who have thrived late in their careers with subpar fastballs – Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, to whom Greinke has often been compared, is an example – only a handful of pitchers every year rate among the league leaders with fastballs under 90 mph. Only three – Kyle Hendricks (87.8 mph) last year, Dallas Keuchel (89.6) and Marco Estrada (89.3) in 2015 – have ranked in the top 20 in ERA the past two seasons.
“There’s velocity and there’s perceived velocity,” Butcher said. “He had some late life on the ball today. The ball got on guys. He mixed his pitches extremely well. I know he changed speeds with his curveball today extremely well. … I liked what he did today. It was good work.”
But Greinke’s ability to pitch effectively will remain an open question until the season begins, particularly considering he’s coming off a down year. Greinke’s numbers fell off in most major categories in comparison to either his previous season, his past three seasons with the Dodgers or his career averages entering last year.