There's a chance Cliff Lee returns this month

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cliff lee throwing.JPGThe Mariners were so encouraged by Cliff Lee’s 63-pitch bullpen session on Monday that they haven’t ruled out his return before the end of the month. Here’s what manager Don Wakamatsu told Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times:

“Yeah, that’s our tendency right now…that’s a possibility,” Wakamatsu
said.

Lee’s return might be expedited if the Mariners choose to limit him to one simulated game followed by one minor league rehab start. One significant factor in this timetable is whether Lee’s five-game suspension is reduced during his appeal hearing on Wednesday.

Basically, worst-case scenario is that M’s fans get Lee back in the first week of May. That doesn’t sound so bad right now.

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.