The Phillies were ready to hand starting right field duties to Domonic Brown this season before he suffered a broken hamate bone in the middle of spring training and required surgery.
The 23-year-old is finally healthy again and possibly closing in quickly on a return to the major leagues.
According to Danny Wild, who covers the minor leagues for MLB.com, Brown launched a 400-foot home run and finished 2-for-4 on Wednesday afternoon at Single-A Clearwater. It was his first minor league rehab game since the injury.
“It feels pretty good, I’m almost at 100 percent,” Brown said. “It just feels good to get back out there getting into games. The Phillies thought it was time to progress a bit.”
Ben Francisco has drawn most of the action in right field so far this year for the Phillies and is currently sporting a decent .261/.327/.455 batting line with four homers and 16 RBI. If he continues to play well, the Phils might have Brown spend more than a week or two getting his timing right on the farm.
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.