Kenta Maeda outing gets Yasmani Grandal into planning mode

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- As far as early spring workouts go, Field 1 at Los Angeles Dodgers camp Monday was must-see baseball.

New Dodgers right-hander Kenta Maeda faced hitters for the first time, and after just two pitches his outing had generated enough attention for somebody to stop the progressive rock that had been blaring from a backstop speaker all morning.

Maeda played some resonating notes of his own, facing eight batters over two simulated innings. The veteran of eight seasons in Japan threw 38 pitches, as well as two pitchouts, and afterward considered it no big deal. He even downplayed his scheduled Cactus League start Saturday at home against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

"It's still spring training," Maeda said through an interpreter. "What is more important is how I do in the regular season."

Catcher Yasmani Grandal offered more of a review, even comparing the new Dodgers right-hander to their old one. Yes, Grandal dared to bring up Zack Greinke when talking about Maeda.

"Here's a guy [Maeda] that throws four pitches," Grandal said. "We had Greinke last year who could throw four pitches, so we did as good as we could to put together a game plan together and execute it."

The Greinke mention raised eyebrows, with Grandal clarifying his statement just a bit.

"The reason why I said Greinke is that he was the only guy we had last year who had a four-pitch mix," Grandal said. "That's why there was the comparison, not that they have the same stuff. They are obviously two different pitchers. But as far as getting creative and doing what we want to do, there is some comparison there."

Maeda showed a fastball, changeup, slider and curve as he faced Chase Utley, Charlie Culberson, Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig in his first inning of work. He faced Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, Howie Kendrick and Shawn Zarraga in his second inning. No ball was hit particularly hard, with Puig hitting a lazy fly ball near the warning track in center on the first pitch he saw.

What the 27-year-old did best was change speeds and stay low in the strike zone, for the most part, throwing his elevated pitches by design.

"The pitches that were elevated were the ones that I threw hard, so I don't think it's necessarily a bad pitch," he said.

Special assistant Greg Maddux even offered words of encouragement after the outing.

"No advice, but he told me I threw well today," Maeda said of Maddux.

It might have been just 38 pitches, but it was enough to have Grandal thinking about a strategy for future starts.

"I want to say he can get it up to 94-95 [mph] when he wants to," Grandal said. "Down in the zone he sticks to 92, which is fine with me. With him it will be rocking batters back and forth: slow, fast, slow, fast. He can do it inside or outside, so it will be fun."