Peavy says he is “far ahead” of his own expectations

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It’s still very early, but right-hander Jake Peavy has been making some impressive strides this spring in his ongoing recovery from major lat surgery.

The White Sox starter has already thrown several bullpen sessions and faced live hitters Wednesday for the first time since arriving at camp.

He has felt no abnormal pain or discomfort in his back or shoulder since arriving at Glendale, Arizona’s Camelback Ranch and the White Sox have now penciled him in to start their fifth Cactus League game against the Angels on March 4.

An optimistic but realistic Peavy spoke Thursday with Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com:

“I’m far ahead of where I thought I would be at this point,” Peavy said. “But I can’t push it and I’ve got to be cautious.”

Peavy, 29, posted a cool 4.63 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 93/34 K/BB ratio over 107 innings last season before suffering the season-ending lat injury that eventually required an extensive surgical procedure. A former ace for the Padres, he still boasts a sparkling 3.36 career ERA and 1.19 career WHIP.

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.