SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Dodgers starting pitcher Zack Greinke Monday night said his right elbow felt fine after pitching in his first Major League exhibition game since March 1 and he should be ready to start the season on time.
"I should be. I think so," he said. "I'll definitely be there, if I can build up endurance. I need some improvement."
Manager Don Mattingly agreed that Greinke has enough time to be ready to start the season active, with the Monday night start "a good outing for Zack to see Major League hitters, to see where he's at and where he needs to go."
Greinke wasn't happy with a 64-pitch outing against his former club, the Kansas City Royals, that opened with the first two batters he faced singling and scoring and the last three batters he faced walking and scoring after he was lifted with the bases loaded and no outs in the fourth inning.
"I felt strong, but obviously not if I'm walking three in a row. That's not normal if I'm feeling good," said Greinke, whose first Dodgers Spring Training was interrupted by the flu, then inflammation in the back of his right elbow that required an injection and cost him much of the month. "I thought I felt good, but the results didn't imply that."
Now Greinke is in catch-up mode to build sufficient stamina to be ready for the regular season. He allowed nine baserunners and five runs. His next start is Saturday's Freeway Series finale, which puts him in line to start the fourth game of the season on April 5 if he's ready.
"My offspeed was bad today," he said. "My fastball was OK [90-94 mph]. There's a lot that needs to be improved. My fastball wasn't great, the offspeed was below OK. The changeup was good. That's one positive. The main thing was the offspeed was so bad, they didn't have to worry about it. I can't get a real judge on the fastball because there was nothing else to worry about.
"This tells me I've got some work to do to build up arm strength and fine-tune the offspeed stuff. If my arm strength is there, I can make it work."
Greinke pitched in a Minor League game five days earlier and said he could tell the difference in the opposition.
"Everything is different," he said. "Even the Minor guys that had been in the big leagues had a presence about them."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.