Livan Hernandez released by Astros, signs with Braves

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UPDATE: Surprisingly enough, it didn’t take Hernandez long to find another gig. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that he’s signing with the Braves, who’ll apparently use the 37-year-old soft-tosser as a long reliever/spot starter. Good thing Calcaterra is on vacation today.

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Once thought to be a near-lock for the Astros’ rotation, Livan Hernandez was released today.

Hernandez signed a minor-league deal in late January and looked likely to eat some innings for an otherwise inexperienced pitching staff, but the 37-year-old right-hander got knocked around this spring and the Astros decided to give opportunities to Jordan Lyles and Kyle Weiland instead.

Hernandez was surprisingly effective for the Nationals in 2010, but allowed opponents to hit .291 off him last season while posting a 4.47 ERA in 175 innings. He struck out just 5.1 batters per nine innings and averaged 83.9 miles per hour with his fastball, so if Hernandez couldn’t crack what figures to be one of the worst rotations in baseball he may finally be finished.

Of course, I’ve said that before.

Video: Jake Arrieta hits a 465-foot home run off of Zack Greinke

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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.

Luis Valbuena to miss four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring

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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.