Juan Rivera ahead of schedule in return from torn hamstring

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Juan Rivera was initially scheduled to miss two months with a ruptured hamstring, but Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports that the veteran outfielder/first baseman is “healing faster than expected.”

Barring a setback Rivera could begin a minor-league rehab assignment shortly and Gurnick speculates that he might be cleared to come off the disabled list as soon as the middle of next week.

Rivera’s injury opened the door for Bobby Abreu to take a big role in the Dodgers’ outfield and he’s hit .314 with five doubles and an .848 OPS in 18 games, so Rivera may be returning to the short end of a platoon role. And platooning the right-handed-hitting Rivera with the left-handed-hitting Abreu could be a very productive arrangement for Los Angeles, albeit one that won’t be pretty defensively.

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.