GLENDALE, Ariz. — Zack Greinke might not have to go to Australia after all.
The Dodgers' left-hander left his first spring start after just four pitches Thursday because of what is being officially characterized as a mild strain of his right calf.
Greinke retired the first batter, then felt some cramping in his calf while throwing a pitch to the next batter. He stepped back from the rubber, stretched and delivered another pitch but still felt the discomfort when he pushed off the rubber with his right leg.
Dodgers trainer Stan Conte and Manager Don Mattingly came out to the mound at that point. After some consultation, Greinke tried throwing two warmup pitches before being pulled from the game.
In the clubhouse shortly after leaving the game, Greinke said he thought the issue was "minor, but we'll see in a couple days or tomorrow or later today."
Given his comments last week that he felt "absolutely zero excitement" among the Dodgers over the historic two-game series in Australia to start the regular season, Greinke's injury - and the real possibility he won't pitch in that series - might have more than minor ramifications.
"It happens during the season where small stuff like this creeps up and you just kind of deal with it," Greinke said of what he described as a cramp in his right calf. "Stuff like that will happen all the time and then the next pitch it's gone. But this time, the next pitch it wasn't gone."
With just 19 exhibition games in Arizona before the team leaves for Australia on March 16, the Dodgers have little cushion to get their starting pitchers ready for the games on March 22-23 against the Diamondbacks. Greinke was lined up to make four starts in Arizona - including Thursday's abbreviated outing. If Greinke is not ready to pitch by Saturday, he would get only three full starts to build up arm strength and pitch counts before the Dodgers break camp. Any extended down time caused by the calf injury would take him out of the mix for those two games.
"How it feels tomorrow is the main thing," Greinke said. "You can't really just mentally make it feel good if it doesn't feel good."
Greinke said he would like to pitch in Australia - despite having voted against making the trip when the event was being organized by MLB and the players' union.
"If we're going to be there - which obviously we are - then, yes, I'd like to pitch over there," Greinke said. "I guess my comments - I didn't realize at the time they'd cause a stir. I'm looking forward to playing over there.
"No one wants me to say it this way but - in my vote if we had to go over there, my vote was not to. But more people wanted to go than not. So now that we are going, I want to be there. I don't want to not go and have the rest of the team have to play and me sit here watching. I also don't want to go over there and watch. I want to go over there and play since that's what we're doing."
Mattingly said Thursday's four-pitch outing would not necessarily eliminate Greinke from starting in Australia.
"I think it depends where it goes," Mattingly said. "He might be able to throw a bullpen (session) in a couple days and get right back out there."
Mattingly has refused to announce any pitching assignments for the Australia series, saying the Dodgers would have four starting pitchers - Greinke, Clayton Kershaw, Dan Haren and Hyun-Jin Ryu - building toward those dates in case an issue cropped up with one or more.
"I know you guys think we've been playing with you," Mattingly said of his evasive answers about the team's pitching plans. "But it's the reason we've been getting four guys ready. We know at any moment something like that can happen. It's a setback and maybe it changes things.
"We've tried to keep our guys focused - everybody has to get ready. Everybody at this point is still lined up, able to be set for Australia. So we're going to keep working towards that and see where it goes."
Catcher A.J. Ellis and outfielder Carl Crawford were unavailable Thursday.
Ellis has the flu. That meant back-to-back starts at catcher for Tim Federowicz in the first two Cactus League games. Ellis is penciled in to play Friday against the Chicago White Sox.
Crawford felt tightness in his right quadriceps during Wednesday's game and was scratched from Thursday's lineup. Crawford said the issue was "not a big deal" and he planned to do "everything but play in the game" during Thursday's workout.
But Mattingly has already said he will be cautious in doling out Crawford's playing time this year in hopes of keeping his legs healthy. Mattingly ruled out Crawford out for Friday as well but said he expects him to play Saturday.
Crawford spent 30 games on the DL last season because of a hamstring injury and was protecting his legs often during the 116 games he did play, something Mattingly said he'd rather do for him by keeping Crawford rested during the regular season.
"We want to take care of Carl from the standpoint of his health," Mattingly said earlier this spring. "When we had him on the field and healthy, it was pretty good. ... Now there were times during the year when he wasn't really running and he was kind of protecting his legs a little bit. But for the most part when Carl was healthy he looked pretty good."
After playing second base Wednesday, Alex Guerrero had two bloop hits as the Dodgers' DH Thursday. Mattingly said he wants to "try to keep him in there every day" in some fashion. "I think we'll see him get better and better as this camp goes on," Mattingly said. "I think the fluidity of his game is going to get better as he gets to play regular." ... Former Dodgers outfielder Shawn Green (Tustin High) is in camp as a guest instructor this week. ... MLB Network's "30 Clubs in 30 Days" tour of spring training camps will feature the Dodgers on Tuesday. The show will air at 7 p.m. PT.