Brewers Ready For A Zack Attack

It’s opening day for the Milwaukee Brewers. Sort of.

The ace of their staff will take the mound, ready to lead them to a Central Division title, a pennant and a World Series championship.

Better late than never. They’ve waited five weeks of the season for newly-acquired ace Zack Greinke to recover from a rib injury suffered playing pick-up basketball over the off season. Welcome to Zack’s World, Brewer’s fans.

Greinke will take the mound against the Atlanta Braves tonight for the first time in a uniform other than the Royal blue.

While the Brewers have stumbled out of the gate, going 13-15. Greinke has missed 28 games. That’s nearly one-fifth of the season. Is he worth the $13.5 million they owe him for this season? Was he worth the price of four potential big leaguers to acquire?

The only way the Brewers’ Greinke experiment will prove worthwhile is if they challenge for a championship. He’s not exactly off on the right foot.

What can Milwaukee fans expect in Greinke’s first outing? Well, his past couple of weeks have been basically like spring training. He was on a pitch count and was trying to knock off the rust as if this were March.

He’s due to throw 90 pitches today. Last Friday he threw 75 pitches over 5 innings for Nashville, the Brewers’ AAA club. He struck out seven, but took the loss by yielding seven hits and two earned runs to Albuquerque.

More interestingly to Royals fans, the past met the future when Greinke faced the hot prospects of the Omaha Storm Chasers. Omaha chased Greinke from that tune-up in just the third inning. He gave up back-to-back triples to Lorenzo Cain and David Lough.

Ironically, the game featured many of those Omaha players Greinke just couldn’t wait around for. He asked to be traded in typically undiplomatic fashion, saying he didn’t want to wait around for prospects to develop. Neither Eric Hosmer nor Mike Moustakas dented Greinke, but they will likely get another crack at him someday.

The Royals’ pain of being spurned by Greinke has been diminished significantly by their better-than-expected start. And they can relish the fact that while Greinke has been on the shelf, the four prospects they acquired in the deal have been gaining valuable experience.

And most of all, KC fans can shake their heads in wonder at the latest twist in the saga that is life with Greinke. Do you think Dayton Moore was the least bit surprised that Greinke was injured in an ill-advised non-baseball activity? My guess is he breathed a sigh of relief, glad he struck while the iron was hot.

The Greinke experiment may still work out. Milwaukee has other solid starters. They currently rank third in the National League in average and slugging, and second in home runs. But they will have to conquer the rugged NL Central. My guess is Milwaukee fans planned to be several games over .500 at this point, not looking up at three other teams in the division standings.

The Greinke soap opera is always worth watching. But it won’t break my heart to see that it’s been moved to a different channel this season. Hope Brewers fans can stomach the drama. I, for one, am glad to be done with it.

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