Nick Blackburn was already facing an uphill battle to rejoin the Twins’ rotation thanks to his awful performance during the past few seasons, but now he may not even be healthy for spring training.
Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com reports that Blackburn will undergo wrist surgery and will be in a cast for at least six weeks. He previously underwent surgery to remove a bone chip from his elbow in October.
Blackburn is owed $5.5 million in the final season of a misguided contract extension handed out by the Twins, but he was dropped from the 40-man roster (and predictably went unclaimed on waivers) amid a career-worst season in which he threw 99 innings with a 7.39 ERA.
For all the talk of needing to improve their rotation the Twins haven’t exactly made any impact moves to actually do so this offseason and Blackburn’s injury further thins out the fifth starter candidates.
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.