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Sunday, February 23, 2014
Updated: February 24, 1:24 PM ET
Officials upset at Zack Greinke

By Mark Saxon
ESPNLosAngeles.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Organizers of Major League Baseball's season-opening series in Australia are upset about comments from Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke, who said that he was not excited for the trip, according to reports in Australian newspapers.

The Sydney Morning Herald said Australian officials have reached out to the Dodgers and Major League Baseball for an explanation. The newspaper said the officials are "holding off on making comment until they've spoken to relevant parties in America."

The opening series at the Sydney Cricket Ground was planned between Australian officials, MLB, the players association, the Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks. The teams open their seasons more than a week before the other MLB teams.

Zack Greinke
Zack Greinke recently said that there was "zero excitement" for the Dodgers' season opener against the Diamondbacks in Australia.

Greinke, the Dodgers' No. 2 starter, presumably would pitch one of the games.

"I would say there is absolutely zero excitement for it. There just isn't any excitement to it," Greinke told ESPNLosAngeles.com. "I can't think of one reason to be excited for it."

The Dodgers responded to the uproar from Australia by explaining that the team, as a whole, is looking forward to the excursion.

"Zack has this endearing, contrarian quality to him that we all know and love about him," Dodgers president Stan Kasten said. "He's famously focused and meticulous about his training regimen. It's what makes him so good and such a great teammate. This is clearly going to alter his routine. I understand that aspect of it.

"But my problem right now is trying to make room for all the people that want to go -- players, family, front-office people. As an organization, we couldn't be more excited about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Kasten organized a tour of the former Soviet Union by the Atlanta Hawks and has also been part of international trips with baseball teams and said players typically return from such trips and view them favorably.

The Dodgers have not announced their starting pitchers for those two games. They are trying to control ace Clayton Kershaw's workload and have considered holding the Cy Young Award winner out of the games in Australia so they could use him in the United States opener on March 30, as well as in their home opener on April 4.

Kershaw could pitch all three games on at least four days' rest, but Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said the team doesn't want him to throw that many innings so early.

Kershaw, 25, pitched a career-high 259 innings last season, including the playoffs.

The Australian games are to be played on March 22 and 23. Because the Dodgers break camp on March 16, they'll play roughly 10 to 15 fewer Cactus League games than in a typical spring. For the starting pitchers, that means two or three fewer starts to get ready, followed by extra rest after their season-opening starter.

Greinke has said he's willing to pitch in Australia and understands why those games were scheduled.

"It's a baseball thing. It's an ownership thing, spreading stuff around," Greinke said. "That's what it's for and it's for the greater good of baseball."