After giving his new club a scare during Spring Training, Zack Greinke will make his official Los Angeles Dodgers debut on Friday night when he takes the hill for the opener of a three-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
After splitting last season with the Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Greinke inked a six-year $147 million deal with the free-spending Dodgers on Dec. 10, which at the time was the highest annual salary ever given to a pitcher.
The former 2009 AL Cy Young winner pitched just 13 innings this spring after having a platelet-rich plasma injection in his right elbow, getting shut down for a few weeks. However, the 29-year-old was able to make two starts at the end of March to tune up for this outing.
"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. I guess that's the best way to say it."
Greinke earned his monster contract by pitching to a collective 3.48 earned run average in 34 starts last season. He went 9-3 with a 3.44 ERA in 21 starts with the Brewers, who dealt the pending free agent to the Angels on July 29. The Angels failed to get into the postseason despite Greinke going 6-2 with a 3.53 ERA in 13 starts.
The righty will face the Pirates for the seventh time in his career and is 4-1 with a 5.70 ERA against them.
Behind Greinke, the Dodgers hope to avoid a third straight loss as they combined for just nine hits in back-to-back defeats to the visiting San Francisco Giants after winning Monday's opener 4-0 on the strength of Clayton Kershaw's four-hitter.
Los Angeles was held to just two hits and got blanked 3-0 the following day before dropping Wednesday's finale 5-3. The Dodgers went 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position and left 12 men on base as they failed to get to Giants starter Tim Lincecum despite his seven walks.
"Tim (Lincecum) wasn't sharp with his pitches, and we had our chances, but just couldn't get a big hit against him," said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly.
All three of Los Angeles' runs came without a hit. Luis Cruz and Matt Kemp both hit sac flies and a run also scored when Kemp hit into a bases-loaded double play.
The Dodgers hope for better luck on Friday against Pirates starter Jonathan Sanchez, who made the rotation as a non-roster invite and is aiming to get his career on track.
The left-hander was traded by the Giants to the Kansas City Royals prior to the start of last season for Melky Cabrera, but went just 1-6 with a 7.76 ERA in 12 starts before getting dealt to the Colorado Rockies during the season.
The move back to the NL West didn't cure the 30-year-old's issues as he lost all three of his starts with the Rockies while allowing 12 earned runs over 11 1/3 innings.
Sanchez, who threw a no-hitter with the Giants in 2009, went 1-2 with a 5.50 ERA in seven Spring Training games, including four starts, and is 3-6 with a 4.66 ERA lifetime versus the Dodgers over 17 games with 13 starts.
Pittsburgh heads out west after dropping two of three at home to the Chicago Cubs to begin the season. After picking up a 3-0 victory on Wednesday in the middle portion of the set, the Pirates nearly rallied from a three-run hole in yesterday's rubber match before ultimately falling 3-2.
Chicago's Nate Schierholtz hit a two-run homer in the top of the ninth for the Cubs and it turned out to be huge as Andrew McCutchen and Gaby Sanchez both singled home runs in the bottom of the frame.
Pittsburgh had the tying run on third with nobody out, but Pedro Alvarez struck out and Neil Walker hit into a game-ending double play.
James McDonald pitched well in defeat, allowing just a run on two hits with a pair of walks and four strikeouts in seven strong innings.
"A really good outing from James," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said of his starter. "Everything we talked about before the game played out for him."
The Pirates lost six of seven to the Dodgers last season, getting swept in a three-game set in Los Angeles from April 10-12. The Dodgers have won six straight and 14 of their last 16 as the host in this series.