What's up with Zack Greinke?

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Zack Greinke frustrated.jpgIt’s the obvious storyline after Friday’s 10-3 loss to the Twins. Greinke allowed four runs — two earned — over five innings while walking five and striking out five. The five walks were the most Greinke had allowed in a start since June 13, 2008.

Through his first three starts this season, Greinke has allowed 10 runs — seven earned — over 17 2/3 innings (3.57 ERA). He didn’t give up his seventh earned run last season until May 26 — in his 10th start of the year. Greinke gave up back-to-back home runs in his last start against the Red Sox. He didn’t give up his first home run last season until June 5 — his 12th start of the season.

Greinke tells Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star that his early ineffectiveness could be due to a failure to execute his game plan:

“I think my mind is just not right on how to pitch,” he said, “because
every game I’ve been able to throw the ball close to where I wanted (to
throw it). I’m just not getting the job done.

“It could be, a
little bit, just not executing the pitches. But I think my game plan has
been wrong. Some of the pitches are not really sharp, but they’re good
enough to where I should, at the very least, be able to pitch deeper
into games.”

I’m confident that Greinke will be just fine moving forward, but it’s no stretch to say that he could be battling two exterior factors right now. One, the pressure to be perfect knowing that his joke of a bullpen could cough up a lead and at any moment. And two, trying to pitch with the knowledge that his start to the ’09 season is an impossibly difficult act to follow.

Alex Dickerson to miss 2017 season after undergoing back surgery

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Padres’ outfielder Alex Dickerson won’t see PETCO Park anytime soon — at least, not as its starting left fielder. The 27-year-old was diagnosed with a bulging disc in his lower back prior to the start of the 2017 season, and hasn’t made any kind of substantial progress in the months since. According to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune, he suffered a setback in his recovery process last week and is set to undergo a season-ending discectomy next Wednesday.

Over 285 plate appearances, Dickerson batted .257/.333/.455 with 10 home runs and a .788 OPS for the Padres in 2016. He missed several days with a right hip contusion last July, but hasn’t experienced any substantial health problems since undergoing surgery in 2014 to repair a torn ligament in his left ankle.

The expected recovery period for lower back surgery is 3-4 months, according to Lin, which puts Dickerson’s estimated return just a few days before the end of the regular season. The Padres aren’t scraping the bottom of the NL West, but their 29-44 record doesn’t bode well for a postseason run this year. Assuming Dickerson rehabs his back in a timely manner, he should be in fine form to enter the competition for left field next spring.

Video: Hanley Ramirez’s No. 250 career home run barely left the field

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Hanley Ramirez played a pivotal role during the Red Sox’ 9-4 win over the Angels on Friday night, crushing a two-run homer off of Alex Meyer to bring the Sox up to a four-run lead in the fourth inning.

Well, crushed might be the wrong word. The ball cleared the right field fence with a mere 350 feet, landing just beyond Pesky’s Pole to bring Ramirez’s career home run total to an even 250.

According to the ESPN Home Run Tracker, Ramirez’s milestone blast wasn’t the shortest home run of the year — not by a long shot. That distinction currently belongs to Rays’ outfielder Corey Dickerson, who skimmed the left field fence at Rogers Centre with a 326-foot homer back in April.