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Reds’ Hunter Greene relishes homecoming vs. Dodgers

Apr 10, 2022; Cumberland, Georgia, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Hunter Greene (21) pitches against the Atlanta Braves during the fourth inning at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Major League Baseball’s youngest active pitcher is set to achieve one of his lifetime goals Saturday night, all at the age of 22.

Hunter Greene will take the mound for the visiting Cincinnati Reds in his second career start, and the Los Angeles-area native will do it while facing the Dodgers in the stadium where he grew up watching games.

The right-hander, the No. 2 overall draft pick in 2017, made his major-league debut Sunday against the World Series champion Atlanta Braves. He earned the win after giving up three runs on four hits over five innings. Of his 92 pitches, 20 reached 100 mph.

Now comes a meeting with the Dodgers, the other club that played in last year’s National League Championship Series. There will be no easing into a major-league career for Greene (1-0, 5.40 ERA).

“I’m sure I’m going to look up and it’ll be a surreal moment, probably an out-of-body experience,” Greene said, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I was really comfortable in Atlanta. I felt like it was another game, but I think being in Dodger Stadium and being back home is going to be even more special.”

Perhaps it helped that Greene knocked another moment off his wish list. He wore a No. 42 jersey on Jackie Robinson Day for the first time Friday. And the occasion came with Robinson’s widow, Rachel, on the field for pregame ceremonies.

“Really my only baseball idol,” Greene said of Robinson. “That’s my guy, man. I look up to him. I always have. He was a great role model for the game and just for life.”

Greene’s collision with destiny Saturday will match him against Dodgers left-hander Julio Urias. The only 20-game winner in the major leagues last season, Urias (0-1, 13.50) has been working his way through slightly diminished velocity in the early going.

He barely had a chance at Colorado on Sunday, giving up six runs (three earned) in just two-plus innings, while throwing 57 pitches. Ten of the 16 batters Urias faced reached base. It didn’t help that left fielder Chris Taylor dropped a fly ball in the wind that led to three runs in the first inning for the Rockies.

“I feel good; it’s all I can say,” Urias said, according to The Orange County Register. “If I don’t execute the pitches, I could throw 100 mph and it wouldn’t matter. I feel like executing the pitches is more important, and it’s what I’m going to focus on.”

Urias has two career starts against the Reds, going 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA. The victory came as a rookie in 2016 after he pitched six scoreless innings at Cincinnati.

The Dodgers won the first two games of the series, including a 3-1 victory Friday, and are on a four-game winning streak since opening the season 1-2 against the Rockies. Trea Turner is riding a 26-game hitting streak for Los Angeles, including a hit in all seven games this season.

The Reds are on a four-game slide and have lost six of seven. Greene earned the Reds’ only victory in that stretch.

–Field Level Media