.173-hitting Don Kelly is playing fist base and batting sixth for the Tigers on Tuesday night, and manager Jim Leyland is way optimistic:
“I’m hoping for Donnie Kelly to maybe get one hit and one RBI,” Leyland said. “If he does that, I’ll be thrilled.”
Of course, it would be bucking the odds a bit. Kelly has started 159 games as a big leaguer and had a hit and an RBI in 39 of them, which works out to 24.5 percent of the time.
Tonight’s start will be Kelly’s first since he rejoined the Tigers over the weekend. After three years of continuous service, he was finally dropped from Detroit’s roster last month after hitting .173/.265/.240 with one homer and seven RBI in 104 at-bats this year. He’s a lifetime .230/.282/.345 hitter.
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.