St. Louis placed starting second baseman Skip Schumaker on the disabled list with a strained right biceps that he suffered Friday and Nick Punto was activated to take his spot on the roster after being sidelined since late February following hernia surgery.
Schumaker’s injury likely pushed up the timetable on Punto’s return a bit, as he comes off the DL without going on a minor-league rehab assignment or seeing any action during spring training.
He was signed to be a utility man after spending the past seven seasons as Ron Gardehire’s favorite toy in Minnesota, but Punto could easily sneak his way into the lineup over other fill-in options Daniel Descalso and Tyler Greene if manager Tony La Russa falls in love with his defense or just really, really loves when someone slides head-first into first base.
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.