Nationals and Cubs “stepping up pursuit of Brandon Webb”

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According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com the Nationals and Cubs “are stepping up their pursuit of Brandon Webb” and “making a big push” to sign the former Cy Young winner amid interest from “several other clubs.”

Washington has been linked to Webb since the moment he became a free agent and Chicago’s interest was first reported a couple weeks ago.

It’ll be interesting to see if Webb can parlay multiple teams being in the mix for him into a bidding war that ultimately gets him a big chunk of guaranteed money despite his last start coming on Opening Day of 2009.

When healthy Webb was an elite starter, finishing first or second in the Cy Young balloting from 2006-2008, but he hasn’t been “right” since the first half of 2008 and the early reports on his velocity following shoulder surgery weren’t very encouraging.

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.