The Cardinals received good news Thursday evening on all three of their starting outfielders.
Colby Rasmus returned to center field and doubled in an afternoon victory over the Astros, left fielder Matt Holliday has been cleared of his quad discomfort and is expected to return Friday, and right fielder Lance Berkman underwent an MRI on his wrist that ruled out ligament damage.
That all comes from ESPN 101’s Brian Stull.
The Cardinals have featured one of baseball’s most productive outfields this season. Rasmus has an .855 OPS and 32 runs scored, Holliday is batting an MVP-like .357/.444/.557 with 28 RBI, and Berkman has a stunning .349/.455/.683 slash line with 11 home runs and 35 RBI.
Rasmus and Holliday should be able to play all three games of the Cardinals’ upcoming interleague weekend series against the Royals. Berkman is likely to return to the starting lineup by early next week.
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.