Astros hoping to decide on manager by early next week

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For the past two weeks the Astros have been busy interviewing manager candidates and owner Jim Crane told Brian McTaggart of MLB.com that the team hopes to make a decision late this week or early next week.

“It will really depend on the selection we make, how quickly we announce that based upon where the teams are and the candidates we’re talking to,” Crane said. “If they’re in the playoffs, we might have to wait until the playoffs are over.”

In other words, if the Astros want to give interim manager Tony DeFrancesco the full-time gig they can announce that any time, but if they want to hire Nationals third base coach Bo Porter they may have to wait awhile. And then there’s Red Sox bench coach Tim Bogar and (barring a big comeback) Rays bench coach Dave Martinez, both of whom figure to be available to start new jobs late next week.

All of which basically means that if the hiring process stretches beyond next week signs would point to Porter as the choice.

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.