John Lackey is out for the entire season following Tommy John elbow surgery, but has advanced far enough in his recovery that he threw a 45-pitch bullpen session yesterday at Yankee Stadium.
And Bobby Valentine liked what he saw, telling Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston:
He threw with an ease of motion and with perfect location. I was very impressed with what I saw. He’s feeling really good about his progress. From what I remember the last time I saw him throwing and what I saw today, it looked like different people. He said it was a different effort, he was throwing through so much pain in the past.
Plenty of Red Sox fans were angry to learn that Lackey is merely allowed to hang out in the clubhouse while injured, so his rejoining the rotation next year may be a shock to everyone’s system, but he’s owed $15.25 million plus another $15.25 million in 2014.
He pitched horribly enough before undergoing surgery that Lackey likely won’t be handed a starting spot, but by the time spring training rolls around he’ll be about 17 months removed from surgery and should be fully recovered.
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.