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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — One of the best pitchers to throw on the royal blue and gold is back in the head saddle.

After leaving his first team in Major League Baseball 12 years ago, Zach Greinke returned to the mound in Kauffman Stadium for the Kansas City Royals and pitched a solid Opening Day outing.

Five hits, one earned run, one hit, a strikeout and a walk in 5.2 innings was the stat line for Greinke vs. the Cleveland Guardians.

“I was pretty solid but wasn’t crazy sharp,” Greinke said after the game. “Weather was a mess. Both teams had to deal with it. Thought we played a great game defensively and pitched pretty good.”

66 of Greinke’s 84 pitches were strikes. While he didn’t get a lot of swings and misses, manager Mike Matheny revels at the pitch control of the Cy Young Award winner.

“There’s just things Zack can do that nobody else really can,” Matheny said after the game.

“It’s so unique to watch the artistry in action.”

Greinke used a lot of sliders against Cleveland and he says he hopes to use it more this year. He also said his curveball was probably the best of his six-pitch palette.

With rookie Bobby Witt Jr. having a memorable debut with a his go-ahead RBI double, Greinke reflected on his Opening Day experience in 2004.

“I think my first game here was against the Expos,” Greinke said which was met with some laughs. Greinke’s Major League debut was against the Oakland Athletics in May 2004; his first MLB win was against the Expos in June 2004. “It was a big game, still remember it as fun.”

As the season begins, Matheny hopes that Greinke can show some of the young arms in the bullpen how to be a complete pitcher instead of relying on velocity.

“They are gonna see the effectiveness of making a quality pitch and a quality location.”

“It’s good to see a pitcher have that kind of success because I believe most of our guys can bring both to the table but focus on using the plate, getting ahead in counts and then giving your defense a chance to do something behind you.”