Greinke allows one run in 5 innings vs. Dutch

Right-hander says he wants to see more improvement before Opening Day

Greinke allows one run in 5 innings vs. Dutch

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The D-backs started Spring Training saying they were going to take it slow with ace Zack Greinke during the elongated spring, and according to Greinke, that's how it's played out.

The former Cy Young Award winner took an incremental step forward in his preparation toward Opening Day in an exhibition game against World Baseball Classic semifinalist Netherlands on Saturday. Against a lineup that featured five Major League starters, Greinke gave up one run on six hits in five innings in a 12-5 D-backs victory. He struck out two and threw 70 pitches.

"It was a little bit better than last start," said Greinke, who sat between 87-91 mph with his fastball. "It would be nice to have a big jump to where it was a lot better. But each start has been a little better so far."

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With two weeks until the D-backs begin the season against the Giants, Greinke isn't worried about his progress, but he isn't overly thrilled either.

"I'd like for it to be better. For sure," Greinke said. "But I guess solid. All the pitches could be crisper. Location could be a little better. I feel pretty good out there, for the most part. But not quite where I want it to be."

D-backs catcher Chris Iannetta, who caught Greinke on Saturday, as well for half a season when the two overlapped with the Angels in 2012, said the right-hander is right where he needs to be with what figures to be two more Cactus League appearances this month before the regular season begins.

"He's right on track," Iannetta said. "It's a process. You want to work your way into it. He's done it so long, he knows what that process is.

"He's not vying for a roster spot or to make the team. He's getting ready for Opening Day and to be the best pitcher he can be. We all want to go there and be in mid-season form in the middle of a hit streak. That's just being a competitor. I wouldn't read too much into it."

While facing a lineup that included the Red Sox's Xander Bogaerts, Rangers' Jurickson Profar, Yankees' Didi Gregorius, Angels' Andrelton Simmons and Orioles' Jonathan Schoop didn't give Greinke any extra motivation -- "less actually," he said -- the 33-year-old took away a positive from the results compared to his last start. That came against D-backs' Minor Leaguers in an intrasquad game.

"Overall it was equally good, result-wise, but it was a lot tougher of a competition by a long shot," Greinke said. "Not just because of the Major League players, but because the Minor League guys [weren't] 20 games in; they were three or four games in, so they weren't used to seeing breaking balls and their timing was off. Today, the at-bats were of higher quality."

Chris Gabel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.