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Things coming together for Greinke

Things coming together for Greinke

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Right-hander Zack Greinke didn't start as if his outing on Sunday would be one he'd like.

"The first inning, it wasn't really that bad an inning, but I didn't have many pitches going," Greinke said. "But the second inning, I probably tried to do too much too early instead of just letting the game plan come together.

"But you can't argue too much with the results."

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Greinke was right. His performance, his fourth start in the Cactus League season, wasn't one that anybody could have found a good reason to judge harshly. For at the end of his day's work, Greinke had put together a start that he'd be content to carbon copy and take it into the regular season.

As he saw it, the outing had taken him another step closer to where he wants to be once the season does begin.

"I've felt better every outing," said Greinke, long considered a top pitching prospect. "Coming into this outing, I felt like everything was coming together about as planned. The results really haven't gotten there yet, but I feel if I continue to pitch the way I have -- or just a little bit better -- everything will work itself out in the end.

"I mean, everything has come together to where I feel comfortable going out there. I should be able to get outs."

He'd get no quarrel on that from manager Trey Hillman, who saw plenty in Greinke's outing on this cold, brisk afternoon that he liked.

"He pitched well," Hillman said. "It's one of the things we've tried to get him to do: He changed speeds real effectively -- a lot like [Brett] Tomko did the other day."

But Greinke's results were a lot better than Tomko's, although Greinke was also facing a Giants lineup that had most of its better players back in Scottsdale, Ariz., playing in a split-squad game.

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His statistical line read: five innings, three hits and one run.

Hillman didn't think it would have mattered much, because Greinke's effectiveness was built around his ability to change speeds. That approach would likely have helped Greinke, whose name has been penciled in as one of the Royals starters, against anybody.

Almost from the start, he was able to go from 92 or 93 mph to 78 mph, and he kept the Giants off-balance. He had hitter after hitter swinging off his front foot.

"Obviously, the first couple innings I didn't have all my pitches working yet -- still mainly just fastballs," he said. "I didn't really have enough pitches to succeed for the full outing."

Once he got those other pitches to work and found his tempo, the 24-year-old Greinke shut down the Giants.

"After the second inning, I really relaxed and felt better," he said.

And, as Hillman said, he pitched better, too.

Justice B. Hill is a senior writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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