When Zack Greinke is done playing baseball, there’s a good chance he’ll stick around the game as a scout. Or maybe he’ll land in some team’s front office.
It’s a future he’s already begun preparing for by watching videos and evaluating prospects between starts.
Which begs the question: How would Greinke the scout have evaluated Greinke the player during his days as a big-hitting high school shortstop?
“I looked at my high school video and my swing’s not as good as I thought it was,” he said. “My confidence then was good enough to make it to the majors. But my swing was not.”
The swing was plenty good Thursday when Greinke, who is having a tremendous year as a pitcher, helped the Dodgers beat the Philadelphia Phillies as a hitter, going three for three and scoring a career-high three runs in a 10-8 victory.
The win pushed the Dodgers to 16 games over .500 for the first time this season and extended Greinke’s personal unbeaten streak to nine starts. But none of it happened in the usual fashion, with the pitcher’s poor throw contributing to a five-run first inning for the Phillies.
Greinke the player responded to the error in a way Greinke the scout would surely notice. He fought back, leading off the second with a single and coming around to score.
“Today I was really mad after that first inning. So I had more motivation to try to get some hits,” Greinke deadpanned. “Usually you just try to focus on your pitching. But we were down so I needed to get good at-bats.”
He got two more, homering to center in his next trip, his swing punctuated by an artful bat flip. When he singled and scored again in the sixth, Greinke became just the second Dodgers pitcher to score three times in a game since the team moved west from Brooklyn in 1958.
All of which didn’t surprise anyone sitting in the Dodgers dugout.
“He takes a lot of pride in hitting. And he takes a lot of pride in defending,” second baseman Howie Kendrick said. “The guy’s an all-around athlete. You don’t get a whole lot of guys that are that great an athlete out there on the mound.”
Greinke had a lot of help Thursday, when every starter in the Dodgers lineup accounted for at least one of the team’s 15 hits. Kendrick, Andre Ethier and Alberto Callaspo had their second consecutive multiple-hit games; Adrian Gonzalez had two hits, including his 22nd home run of the season.
Even center fielder Joc Pederson joined in, with his seventh-inning single ending a 0-for-23 slide.
Greinke (11-2) needed the support because the six earned runs he gave up in six innings were the most he’s given up in a game since August of 2012. It was also more than he gave up in either May or July this season.
As a result, his earned-run average climbed to 1.71 — still more than a quarter-run better than anyone else in the major leagues.
Yet, if pitching hadn’t worked out so well, Kendrick wonders whether Greinke — who had 31 homers and 144 runs batted in and never hit less than .444 in high school —- could have made the majors as an infielder.
“He can do a lot of things,” Kendrick said. “He can play some basketball. He does really well at golf. When you get some guys that are all-around players like that, you never know. He’s one of those guys, maybe he might have been able to do it.
“But when you come out of high school throwing 98, 99, it says something a little different.”
Clayton Kershaw (9-6, 2.37 ERA) will open the Dodgers’ three-game series in Pittsburgh against Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole (14-5, 2.29) at 4 p.m. PDT Friday. TV: SportsNet LA, ESPN. Radio 570, 1020.