Giants designate infielder Matt Downs for assignment

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The Giants cleared a spot on their 25-man roster early this morning by designating infielder Matt Downs for assignment, according to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News.  That will allow outfielder Cody Ross, who was picked up for cash considerations in a waiver deal Sunday, to join the big league team.

As Baggarly himself pointed out this weekend, the Giants only meant to claim Ross off waivers in order to block him from the Padres, who San Francisco is chasing in the National League West.  But the Fish jumped at the chance to unload the 29-year-old’s contract and now the outfield in San Fran is quite crowded.

Ross will join a shuffle that already includes Andres Torres, Pat Burrell, Jose Guillen, Aaron Rowand and Nate Schierholtz.  Needless to say, there won’t be much playing time available.

Downs, 26, is likely to pass through waivers with ease and head back to Triple-A Fresno.  He batted .244/.318/.372 with a home run and seven RBI in 78 at-bats this season for the big-league Giants.

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.