UPDATE: Friday, March 15, at 2:30 p.m. ET by Adam Wells
The Dodgers could have a problem on their hands. That revamped pitching staff could look a little light when Opening Day rolls around.
According to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, manager Don Mattingly could be proceeding as if Greinke won't be ready in time for the season opener.
Because the Dodgers have two days off in the first eight days of the regular season, they won’t need a fifth starter until April 13. They could therefore place Greinke on the disabled list without making any alterations to their rotation.
Mattingly said he doesn’t want to use Greinke if he is at less than full strength, noting the burden it would place on his relievers.
Having Greinke healthy for the entire season is far more important than a start or two in April. Even though the Dodgers have depth in the rotation, the potentially dominant 1-2 punch at the top with Greinke and Clayton Kershaw is why people love this team in the National League West.
Risking Greinke's long-term health would be a foolish move, and it sounds like the Dodgers are prepared to play things cautiously.
--End of update--
UPDATE: Thursday, March 14, at 1:05 p.m. ET by Timothy Rapp
It looks like Greinke may not be able to pitch on Opening Day, according to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports:
Jon Morosi @jonmorosi
Zack Greinke won't resume throwing bullpens until next week at the earliest, putting his availability for Opening Day in doubt.3/14/2013, 5:00:43 PM
---End of update---
UPDATE: Tuesday, March 12, at 3:15 p.m. ET by Ben Chodos
Zach Greinke is still unsure about what is causing pain in his elbow, and without a diagnosis, there is no timetable for his return. The Los Angeles Times' Dylan Hernandez reported the following news about the right-hander's ability to be healthy for the start of the season:
Dylan Hernandez @dylanohernandez
Zack Greinke said he doesn't know exactly what's wrong with his elbow. Also said he doesn't know if he'll be ready to pitch April 2.3/12/2013, 9:35:25 PM
---End of update---
The 29-year-old—who signed a six-year, $147 million deal with the Dodgers in December—alerted the team of the discomfort after playing catch on Sunday, per the Associated Press report. He had a bullpen session on Friday.
Greinke was scheduled to return to the Dodgers' spring-training facility in Arizona after getting his elbow checked out by Dr. Neal ElAttrache. The Dodgers' prized free agent "received an injection of platelet-rich plasma and anti-inflammatory medication," according to a team report cited by the AP.
According to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com, manager Don Mattingly expects Greinke to start in the Dodgers' second game of the regular season on April 2.
The former All-Star was the 2009 American League Cy Young Award winner when he was with the Kansas City Royals. Last season with the Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Angels, he posted a 3.48 ERA and 1.20 WHIP with 200 strikeouts in 212.1 innings.
The Dodgers made a big trade in August—dealing for Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and right-hander Josh Beckett—but ultimately fell short of making the playoffs. That didn't stop them from signing Greinke to a lucrative deal in December.
The hope is that the chemistry will build throughout the season and that Greinke can help lead the charge. That will prove difficult if Greinke can't stay on the mound, though.
Los Angeles is predictably being cautious with Greinke. The last thing it wants is for him to miss an extended period of time right after inking him to an expensive, long-term deal.
A one-two punch consisting of Greinke and left-hander Clayton Kershaw would be deadly if Greinke can stay healthy. After finishing 86-76 last season, eight games behind the world champion San Francisco Giants in the NL West, the Dodgers can't afford to see key players go down.