Rasmus, La Russa getting along after rocky start

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rasmus batting practice.jpgJoe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published a fascinating piece Sunday morning on the once-tumultuous relationship between Cardinals center fielder Colby Rasmus and veteran manager Tony La Russa.

Rasmus was selected 28th overall in the 2005 MLB amateur draft and has already established himself as an important part of the Cardinals both at the plate and in the field. 

A streaky hitter and a typical coach’s son, Rasmus sought guidance from his father when he began struggling last season.  That, at first, rubbed La Russa the wrong way, but he has since embraced it.

“I don’t have a problem with it,” La Russa said last week in Los
Angeles. “I’ve talked to his father about what he teaches, what he
sees. He knows Colby better than anybody. If he helps Colby, he helps
us.”

In turn, Colby has warmed to the sometimes-stubborn but always faithful La Russa.

“I come from such a different place,” the Phenix City, Alabama native told the Post-Dispatch. “We’ve been through some pretty tough times. I mean,
last year I didn’t even open my mouth. I can handle it when he gets on
me. But he’s old school. Sometimes I don’t understand the way he’s
going about it. He’s a real smart guy. I’m not that smart. I’ve just
played baseball since I could walk, and some of those things he talks
about I didn’t understand.”

Rasmus, 23, is hitting .290 this season with a spectacular .397 on-base percentage, a .568 slugging percentage, 11 home runs and 30 RBI through 176 at-bats.  Considered a five-tool prospect when he was drafted, the youngster has also swiped eight bases this year and appears primed for several future 20 HR-20 SB campaigns.

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.