Normally bench coach news isn’t one of our focuses, but since Joe Maddon and Ron Roenicke both landed manager gigs after serving as Mike Scioscia’s right-hand man it seems worth noting that Rob Picciolo has been named the new Angels bench coach.
Picciolo has served as the Angels’ “roving infield instructor” for the past five years and before that was a coach in the Padres’ organization for 16 seasons, so he’s definitely long on experience.
Randy Youngman of the Orange County Register reports that Roenicke wanted Picciolo to come with him to Milwaukee, but it’s tough to blame him for wanting to see if he can make it three in a row for the Angels bench coach-to-manager progression.
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.
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.