Ryan Madson plays catch, but return timetable is uncertain

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Ryan Madson played catch today, throwing for the first time since experiencing soreness in his surgically repaired elbow on February 1.

“He’s starting a progression of about 50 feet,” manager Mike Scioscia said, via the Associated Press. “He felt great after his last [session]. Until he can get out there and get in long toss we’re not going to know exactly where he is.”

Signed to a one-year, $3.5 million deal to serve as the Angels’ closer despite missing all of last season following Tommy John surgery, Madson has little chance to be ready for Opening Day even if he can avoid further setbacks. The good news is that an MRI exam showed no structural damage and Ernesto Frieri is perfectly capable of thriving in the ninth inning if needed.

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.