After missing 3 1/2 months with a fractured right fibula, Jeff Niemann exited his start against the Blue Jays on Saturday after just 3 1/3 innings with what was initially described as right arm tightness. It turns out the injury could end his season.
According to Marc Topkin of Tampa Bay Times, Niemann is out indefinitely after an exam by Dr. Koco Eaton today revealed slight inflammation in his right rotator cuff. While he hopes his condition will improve with a couple of days of rest, he’s not sure if he’ll be able to make it back this year.
David Price, James Shields, Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson and Alex Cobb have been fantastic, so the Rays should be able to get by fine in the rotation, but Niemann could have been asked to make another spot start or two in September. Now that assignment would likely fall to Chris Archer, who is expected to join the club later this week.
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.