While Arizona was reeling after the injury of A.J. Pollock, Opening Day was still a reason to rejoice for the team and their fans; as their $206.5 million pitcher, Zack Greinke, was taking the hill. In 14.1 spring training innings, he pitched to the tune of a 1.88 ERA, struck out 11, and walked just one. However in his first official start for the Diamondbacks, Greinke surrendered seven earned runs in just four innings.
Of course, a single start doesn't mean anything in the long run, but it was certainly not the start Arizona was hoping for. After the game, Ken Rosenthal reported that Greinke was sick, which would explain his poor outing.
Sources: #Dbacks’ Greinke pitched with flu. Did not come close to missing start; decision that he would pitch was made day before.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) April 5, 2016
That seemed to be the end of the story, as that would explain Greinke's general shakiness throughout the game, but Chip Hale had a different answer.
"If Greinke was sick, that was news to Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale. Hale Said Greinke had been suffering from respiratory issues in spring training, but he was checked out and 'that was the extent of it.'
'I think what bothered him were their at-bats and the location of his pitches,' Hale added...
If he had the flu and it was an issue he probably wouldn't have been able to start,' Hale said. 'We saw Oakland scratch (ace) Sonny Gray with food poisoning. If it's that debilitating you're not going to send a guy out there that's dehydrated and (he's going to get injured).'"
There are a couple reasons as to why his answer is strange; the first being that players often take the field while sick. Madison Bumgarner pitched on opening day despite having the flu, and teammates Buster Posey and Denard Span have played through it as well. Curt Schilling pitched in the World Series after having a surgery that their team physician invented. For Hale to suggest that Greinke wouldn't be able to pitch through the flu is just idiotic.
That on it's own is strange enough, but the second reason is perhaps more important. Why did Hale feel the need to contradict Rosenthal's report at all? It was a non-story, but Hale's denial has seemingly made it one. While Greinke can of course deal with having a bad outing, the flu explained it away.
We'll all forget that this ever happened in a couple weeks, but that doesn't make it any less weird.