Apparently serving as the Phillies’ closer is hazardous to your health.
Brad Lidge has been on the disabled list all season with a shoulder injury, shortly after replacing him in the ninth inning Jose Contreras was shut down with an elbow injury, and now Ryan Madson has been put on the shelf with a bruised hand.
Madson thrived in the closer role, converting 15-of-16 saves with a 2.03 ERA in 31 innings despite oft-repeated doubts about his ability to handle ninth-inning duties.
Contreras recently suffered a setback that will likely keep him out until August, but Lidge is nearing a return and could be ready before the All-Star break. Madson’s stint is backdated and while the numbness he’s experienced is scary it sounds like the Phillies don’t expect him to miss much time, so he could be back as soon as next week. In the meantime Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes that “Antonio Bastardo likely becomes the new closer.”
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.