Posted April 04, 2013 on AP on Fox
For a player who has dealt with anxiety issues, Zack Greinke is facing what may be one of the most high-pressure days of his career. It's his first meaningful game since signing one of the richest pitching contracts in history, and his first with one of baseball's most storied franchises. Plus, Greinke is trying to show his new home fans that a recent elbow issue is no longer a problem as the Los Angeles Dodgers face the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night. Social anxiety disorder plagued Greinke early in his Kansas City Royals tenure, but he overcame it to win the 2009 AL Cy Young Award and was among the most sought-after free agents this winter. He said upon entering his first Dodgers camp in February that the condition is firmly under control. "I don't think about it at all. I don't get stressed by it," said Greinke, who joined Los Angeles with a six-year deal worth $147 million. "It's just something that was a problem before, but it isn't now. I'm sure it could be somewhere in the future, but it's not anything that affects me." The right-hander went 15-5 with a 3.48 ERA last season, performing as well with the Los Angeles Angels during the playoff chase as he did with Milwaukee during the first half of 2012 before getting traded. Greinke went 5-0 with a 2.04 ERA in his final eight starts. Elbow soreness kept him out of exhibition games for three-plus weeks in March, though his final spring outing was a good one. He threw five innings of one-run ball with five strikeouts against the Angels on Saturday. "I still don't know how it's going to react," Greinke told the Dodgers' official website. "It should be fine. But I guess it could happen again. I don't know. I can't predict the future." Greinke defeated his current team in his only start at Dodger Stadium, allowing a run in six innings of a 2-1 Brewers win May 31. He faced Pittsburgh five times during his 1 1/2 seasons with Milwaukee and usually struggled, posting a 6.30 ERA, but he did go 3-1. Los Angeles got a shutout from Clayton Kershaw to open the season but has since seen Hyun-Jin Ryu and Josh Beckett lose to San Francisco. That duo gave up all eight runs but only four were earned as the Dodgers committed four errors. Manager Don Mattingly's lineup has totaled seven runs, going 2 for 27 with runners in scoring position and hitting .176 overall. Sluggers Matt Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez are 1 for 19. However, that performance came against the vaunted Giants staff, whereas this series sees Los Angeles face Jonathan Sanchez and Jeff Locke - each had one win in 2012 - along with A.J. Burnett. First up is Sanchez, coming off the worst of his seven big-league seasons. The left-hander went 1-9 with an 8.07 ERA in 15 starts for Kansas City and Colorado. Sanchez was told he made the Pirates rotation last week even though he gave up 11 runs, 18 hits and 10 walks in 18 innings during spring training. The former Giant is 3-1 with a 2.10 ERA in his past four starts versus the Dodgers, though he hasn't faced them since April 2011. He's hoping the Pirates' bats wake up after totaling six runs and 13 hits in their season-opening series as the Cubs took two of three. "Once our offense gets rolling, we're going to be tough to beat," said Russell Martin, 0 for 10 in his first three games with Pittsburgh. Clint Barmes' two doubles account for half of the Pirates' extra-base hits - they have yet to homer - and he's 7 for 11 against Greinke.
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