Link-O-Rama: Jepsen going through 'a dead arm period'

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* Kevin Jepsen has emerged as the go-to guy in the Angels’ bullpen, but the rookie has been unavailable all week because of “a dead arm period.” As the right-hander with a 1.87 ERA since the All-Star break put it: “My shoulder is tired. I really don’t know how to explain it, but just throwing the ball you can tell it’s just … the ball feels a little heavier.”
* Pedro Martinez threw off flat ground yesterday and reportedly sounded “optimistic” about making his scheduled start Saturday against the Brewers. Martinez exited his last start after three innings with a sore neck and hasn’t thrown off a mound since.
* I’ve written a couple articles recently about why it makes little sense to get worked up about hitter strikeouts, and here’s a perfect example: John Romano of the St. Petersburg Times notes in today’s column that “Tampa Bay is on pace to score a franchise record 803 runs” and then in the very next sentence declares that “the Rays strike out too much.” So they’ve scored more runs than any team in franchise history, but we should be worried about what type of outs they made?
* Braves prospect Todd Richmond tossed eight shutout innings yesterday as the United States defeated Puerto Rico to earn a spot in the World Cup championship game, where they’ll face Cuba.

Video: Jake Arrieta hits a 465-foot home run off of Zack Greinke

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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.

Luis Valbuena to miss four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring

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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.