Casey Blake “close” to beginning rehab assignment in minors

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Casey Blake has been out since April 25 with an elbow infection that was expected to sideline him for 4-6 weeks, but yesterday manager Don Mattingly revealed that “Casey is close” to beginning a minor-league rehab assignment.

Mattingly told Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times that Blake “went the fully Monty” yesterday, which means taking batting practice and fielding ground balls (presumably with clothes on).

Friday is the start of a six-game road trip for the Dodgers and Mattingly indicated that the goal is for Blake to begin rehabbing during that time.

Juan Uribe has started 13 of the past 15 games at third base in Blake’s absence, but has hit just .154 and was benched yesterday in favor of Juan Castro.

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.