Ivan Nova has to compete for a spot in Yankees’ rotation

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Last season Ivan Nova was dumped from the Yankees’ rotation down the stretch and then left off the playoff roster, and manager Joe Girardi said yesterday that he’s not guaranteed a starting job this year.

Girardi told Andy McCullough of the Newark Star Ledger that Nova “has to go out and prove himself” in order to claim the fifth starter spot, with David Phelps serving as his primary competition.

Nova’s secondary numbers were much better than his ugly 5.02 ERA last season, but two years ago his 3.70 ERA and 16-4 record were much better than his secondary numbers. Overall he has a 4.41 ERA in 61 career starts through age 25, while Phelps is the same age and has started just 11 games as a big leaguer.

Seems pretty safe to say Nova is the favorite to be the Yankees’ fifth starter, but it makes sense that Girardi wants him to have to work for it.

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.