From beat writer Troy Renck of the Denver Post comes word that Rockies first baseman Todd Helton is unlikely to return to action this season due to ongoing discomfort in his lower back.
Helton hasn’t played since last Tuesday. He was given a cortisone shot this week in an effort to expedite his recovery and will continue working out through the end of the regular season, but the Rockies probably aren’t going to risk making the matter worse by letting him back on the playing field.
Helton batted .302/.385/.466 with 14 home runs, 27 doubles and 69 RBI across 491 plate appearances this season. The 38-year-old veteran first baseman is owed $4.9 million next season and $5 million in 2013 via a two-year extension that he signed last March.
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.