* Former Yankees, Indians, Cubs, and Giants outfielder Mel Hall has been sentenced to 45 years in prison after being convicted of raping a 12-year-old girl who he coached on a basketball team.
The 48-year-old Hall, who has also been accused of carrying on inappropriate relationships with several other children, will be eligible for parole in 22.5 years.
* It’s probably not a great sign that A.J. Hinch is holding a team meeting 36 games into his managerial career. As Ozzie Guillen put it last week: “Good teams win games. Bad teams have meetings.”
* Also not a good sign for a manager: Cleveland’s most prominent sports columnist is wondering if Eric Wedge has “reached his limit with floundering Tribe.”
* Chipper Jones is happy
that John Smoltz’s altered comeback timetable has him avoiding the
Braves in his second start. Instead of facing his former teammates,
Smoltz will start against the Orioles after getting the Nationals in
his Red Sox debut next Thursday.
* After eight straight Republican victories, the Democrats finally won the annual Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park last night.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.