Reds phenom Chapman exits early (back stiffness)

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Update: The Reds announced that Chapman departed with lower back stiffness, a problem that had plagued him all week. Chapman was set to be examined after the game. The feeling is that this could knock him out of the competition for a rotation spot.

Aroldis Chapman left his appearance in his second inning of work Monday accompanied by the Reds’ trainer after laboring the Rockies.
Chapman, pitching in relief of Bronson Arroyo, had an easy sixth inning versus Colorado before struggling during a 30-pitch seventh inning. Throwing mostly offspeed pitches, he walked two and gave up four runs, all of which were unearned. His departure immediately followed a three-run double.
Given that the Reds wouldn’t have wanted to extend him too far in a single inning of work, Chapman might have been done then anyway. Still, it wasn’t a good sign that manager Dusty Baker, pitching coach Bryan Price and trainer Paul Lessard all went to the mound to see him, and Lessard joined him as he walked off the mound.
If Chapman is hurt, even if it’s a minor problem, then there’d seem to be little chance of him beginning the season in the Reds’ rotation. Matt Maloney and Justin Lehr would be the top candidates to replace him.

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.