Mauer's backup doubtful for Opening Day after wrist surgery

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While the Twins work on a long-term contract extension for Joe Mauer his presumed backup, Jose Morales, recently underwent surgery to “stabilize a tendon in his right wrist.”
Morales is hoping to resume baseball activities in mid-March, but even if he avoids a setback that doesn’t leave much time to be ready for Opening Day. In fact, Morales told MLB.com’s Kelly Thesier that being on the active roster for the start of the season is “a little optimistic.”
The injury dates back to the final few games of last season and perhaps explains why Morales finished 3-for-27 (.111) with 11 strikeouts after previously going 34-for-95 (.358) with just 14 strikeouts. Unfortunately rather than getting treatment immediately he opted to rest the wrist until deciding last month that surgery was needed.
Obviously having Mauer means the Twins’ backup catcher rarely plays, but they let veteran Mike Redmond depart via free agency because they were confident in Morales’ ability to take over the job. Drew Butera is third on the depth chart right now, but he’s a career .214 hitter in the minors and Ron Gardenhire has already made noise about using 22-year-old stud prospect Wilson Ramos as Mauer’s backup until Morales is ready.

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.