It took six months, but James Loney is finally hitting.
Actually, maybe all it took was for the Dodgers to have him warm up in the bullpen as an emergency pitching option. Since that happened on August 21 he’s 18-for-35 (.514) with four homers and five doubles, which is pretty amazing considering Loney hit .254 with a grand total of five homers in the 123 previous games.
Loney’s overall numbers remain terrible for a first baseman, as his OPS is a career-low .709 and he’s managed just 28 extra-base hits and 32 walks in 471 plate appearances.
He’s on track to finish with a sub-.400 slugging percentage for the third straight season and if the Dodgers are smart they won’t let any late-season hot streaks talk them into keeping Loney around for another year. If he isn’t non-tendered Loney will make at least $5 million in 2012 via arbitration.
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.