Chipper Jones — who I would have bet a good deal had his career ended with that torn ACL last summer — appears to be healing just fine: he’s been cleared to swing a bat and will likely be ready to go full speed once spring training begins.
We’re certainly in the twilight of the Chipper Jones era — and the days in which the Braves depended upon Jones to carry significant weight in the offense is over — but his health is still important to the Braves for strategic purposes. If he can man third, the Uggla-at-second, Prado-in-left scenario works out well enough. If Jones can’t make it, Prado will have to play third and the Braves will find themselves in need of a left fielder. Again.
And if he does play, I wonder if Fredi Gonzalez will have the guts to move him to second in the order to take advantage of his still extant on-base skills and to place less pressure on him to hit for power.
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.