According to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, Alex Rodriguez is back in the Yankees’ starting lineup this afternoon against the Blue Jays, batting fifth and playing third base.
Rodriguez hasn’t played since September 9 due to a Grade 1 sprain of his left thumb. The injury is expected to linger for the rest of the regular season and the playoffs, but the veteran third baseman is confident that a new grip on the bat will take pressure off the thumb.
Rodriguez, 36, is batting .284/.367/.475 with 15 homers, 56 RBI and an .842 OPS over 390 plate appearances this season. He is 7-for-36 (.194) since returning from knee surgery last month.
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.