Padres reliever Joe Thatcher to undergo shoulder surgery

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Joe Thatcher was a key part of the Padres’ excellent bullpen last season, making 65 appearances as a left-handed specialist while logging 35 innings with a 1.29 ERA and 45/7 K/BB ratio.

He began this season on the disabled list with a strained shoulder and the Padres announced yesterday that the 28-year-old left-hander will need arthroscopic surgery.

Thatcher told Don Norcross of the San Diego Union Tribune that he’s hoping the labrum damage is minimal, in which case he might be able to return late in the season, but if labrum reconstruction is required he’s looking at a return timetable of 9-12 months and a potentially career-altering recovery.

Norcross notes that Thatcher allowed just one run in his final 40 appearances last season, but he’s been sidelined since the middle of spring training and took three cortisone shots in an effort to heal the injury through rest and rehab.

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.