Josh Beckett shook off the mild concussion he sustained last Monday to toss 3.2 innings of one-run ball against the Astros today, striking out four batters.
In addition to avoiding any post-concussion symptoms Beckett also told Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com that his back problems have improved after limiting him to just 21 starts last season:
I feel different walking around. More stability than anything. It’s not like it feels stronger, but more stable. Balanced is a good word for it. Balance is huge in pitching. It keeps me healthy.
Obviously getting healthy is key for Beckett, but even setting aside the injury issues his 116/46 K/BB ratio in 128 innings last season suggested he pitched much better than the ugly 5.78 ERA would indicate. Based on his strikeout, walk, and ground-ball numbers Beckett posted a solid 4.01 xFIP.
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.