John Lackey faces live hitters for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery

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Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine told reporters late last month that he was “very impressed” after watching John Lackey throw batting practice. And now the right-hander has taken another major stride.

According to Danny Picard of CSN New England, Lackey tossed 15 pitches to live hitters Saturday at Fenway Park without experiencing any sort of pain or discomfort in his surgically-repaired right elbow.

“It’s the first step in the new world for him, after a real hard summer of rehab,” said Bobby V in his review of the short workout. “And better than how he looked, is how he felt. He said he felt great afterwards. And that’s what’s really important.”

Lackey is on track to be fully healthy by the beginning of spring training next February. The 33-year-old is under contract through the 2014 season at a salary of $15.25 million per year.

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.