PHOENIX -- Zack Greinke has been getting plenty of ribbing -- no pun intended -- from former Royals teammates who remember the way he used to get on players who were hurt. Now, here's Greinke, headed to the Brewers' Opening Day disabled list with a cracked rib suffered on a basketball court.

It's been a tough start to his tenure with a new team.

"You can build a reputation with what you do over a long period of time," he said. "In Kansas City, they would be like, 'That's weird that he's hurt,' because I always made fun of people that were hurt. They would probably be giving me a hard time over there."

In fact, they are giving him a hard time. They just need to pick up the telephone to do it.

"When I talk to anyone over there, they make fun of me," Greinke said. "It's like, 'Oh, I thought you never get hurt.'"

He did get hurt, and left the Brewers without their biggest offseason acquisition for the start of the season. Yovani Gallardo will start the March 31 season opener that might have gone to Greinke, considering he's the 2009 American League Cy Young Award winner, and nobody can predict with any degree of certainty when Greinke will finally throw his first regular-season pitch.

Greinke granted an interview this week and heaped some praise on Gallardo, but declined to provide details about his own status. He has been limited to exercises in the training room and will not be cleared to begin a throwing program until his ribs are pain-free.

Once he does begin throwing, he'll need time. The typical starting pitcher uses all six weeks of Spring Training to build to the 100-pitch mark.

"It's going on how everything heals up," Greinke said. "I can't predict it."

He's not even trying.

"What I've tried to do is not think about it," Greinke said. "Whenever it's better, I can start getting ready and not beat myself up about the moment. It's definitely frustrating."

The "moment" was sometime early in Spring Training, when Greinke leaped for a rebound in a pickup basketball game and fell to the hardwood, cracking his seventh rib and bruising his eighth rib on the left side. At first, the Brewers thought there was only bruising, but when Greinke still felt discomfort after two Cactus League starts, an MRI scan was ordered that showed the faint crack.

If it were the regular season, the team's head physician said, Greinke would probably continue to pitch. But considering it was relatively early in Spring Training, and that Greinke is so key to the Brewers' starting rotation makeover, he was immediately shut down to heal.

He's tried to stay busy.

"I like what he's doing," manager Ron Roenicke said. "During batting practice, he'll go out and stand on the main field and watch the guys take batting practice. If any of the starters are throwing a bullpen, he's always there, down behind, watching."

The team's other major pitching pickup, Shaun Marcum, has also dealt with a spring setback, but he's expected to bounce back from a stiff right shoulder in time to open the season as the Brewers' No. 2 starter behind Gallardo.

Those two injuries would have been enough to concern the Brewers' fan base, but the team also is expecting to be without right fielder Corey Hart (ribs) and catcher Jonathan Lucroy (finger) on Opening Day, and a slew of other regulars have had minor setbacks.

But in the big picture, Greinke still expects the team to compete in the National League Central.

"The team is definitely still really good," Greinke said. "Every team deals with injuries. It's one thing if you're missing half your team, but we're only missing one starter and one or two position players, and all three injuries are short-term. It's not anything ridiculous.

"If your team can't get over that, then it's your own fault. So, we should be fine."