How quickly spring training shifts from the “Best Shape of His Life” stage to the “Players Being Injured” stage.
A’s closer Grant Balfour will miss 4-6 weeks following surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, which apparently bothered him at the end of last season and then continued to be an issue when he started throwing this week.
Balfour might have time to be ready for Opening Day and if not he shouldn’t miss many games. Oakland has good bullpen depth anyway, with Ryan Cook and Sean Doolittle as the most likely fill-in closers.
Balfour came into last season with just 10 career saves through age 33, but saved 24 games with a 2.53 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 75 innings. Dating back to 2008 he has a 2.78 ERA in 318 innings while holding opponents to a .191 batting average.
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.