Dice-K cuts batting practice short with stiff neck

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matsuzaka sunglasses.JPGIt’s probably safe to say we can take Daisuke Matsuzaka out of the mix to start the season in Boston’s rotation. Dice-K’s live batting practice session on Saturday was scratched due to a stiff neck. He threw just five pitches in the bullpen before shutting it down.

Today was going to be an important step forward for Dice-K, who was tentatively scheduled to appear in his first game action on Wednesday, likely against minor leaguers. That start will almost surely be pushed back now that Matsuzaka needs to return to Boston for some personal matters.

The Red Sox have taken it slow with Matsuzaka since he complained of some back stiffness at the start of camp in February.

Assuming Matsuzaka starts the season on the disabled list, Boston’s rotation will consist of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz and Tim Wakefield.

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.