A’s shut Rich Harden down for another whole week

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A’s pitcher Rich Harden told reporters on Thursday that his stiff lat muscle was “coming along” and that he was “100 percent pain-free.”

Either he wasn’t telling the whole truth or the A’s are simply playing it extra careful with the oft-injured right-hander, because he has been shut down for another seven days.

The news comes from Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Harden was originally shut down by the Oakland coaching staff on February 15 after he complained of discomfort in the area of his right lat following a 10-pitch bullpen session. It’s early, and it’s still quite possible that Harden will be able to catch up with other Oakland pitchers by the time the regular season begins, but he can probably be ruled out of the competition for the club’s final rotation spot.

That gig will go to either Josh Outman or Brandon McCarthy, who have both looked good this spring and will now be a full two weeks ahead of Harden on the conditioning front.

Harden may have to settle for a long relief job if he wants to crack the Opening Day roster.

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.