Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma has left the team and traveled back to Japan for undisclosed “personal reasons.”
Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times reports that Iwakuma is expected to rejoin the team in time to make his next scheduled start, which is Monday against the Blue Jays, and might even be back in the United States as soon as Saturday.
Iwakuma was an afterthought for the Mariners’ pitching staff early on this season, often going long stretches without being used, but he eventually got an opportunity for a regular role and has thrown 51 innings with a 4.56 ERA split between the rotation and bullpen.
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.