Way back in 1989 the Montreal Expos signed a Canadian-born infielder named Matt Stairs as an undrafted free agent.
In the two-plus decades since then Stairs has played more than 1,800 games in the majors for a dozen different teams while becoming baseball’s all-time leader in pinch-hit homers and the Expos have moved to Washington and become the Nationals.
And today Stairs signed a minor-league contract with the Nationals, which means he’s technically returning to his original organization.
Stairs is basically purely a bench player at this point, starting a total of just 30 games in the past two seasons, but even at age 43 he still has plenty of power after slugging .475 with six homers in 99 at-bats for the Padres.
He’s also universally regarded as a great teammate, so whether or not he ends up making the Opening Day roster the Nationals no doubt hope Stairs can have a positive influence on 18-year-old Bryce Harper during spring training.
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.