Jacoby Ellsbury finally cleared for batting practice

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Finally, some good news on the injury front for the Red Sox and their fans.

Jacoby Ellsbury, who has played in just three games since April 11 due to fractures in his rib cage, finally took batting practice Wednesday at the Red Sox’s spring training complex in Fort Myers, Florida.  This from Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe

There is still no timetable for the center fielder’s return, but progress is progress.

Ellsbury has made only 45 plate appearances in the big leagues this season and his absence from the Boston lineup has shown up vividly in the American League East standings.  The Red Sox currently sit seven games back of the Yankees in the division and 4.5 games back of the Rays in the hunt for the Wild Card.  There’s a real chance that we could see the first Boston-free October since 2006.

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.