Johan Santana “less and less likely” to be ready by Opening Day

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Adam Rubin has the details:

“So, from my standpoint, his arm is fine, as far as we know. Was he ready to pitch when he came into camp? No. Even he may have been a little surprised by that. So that leaves us where we are today. And where we are today is getting him ready to pitch as soon as we possibly can. We haven’t rule out Opening Day, although given when we think he might get on the mound, it becomes less and less likely. We haven’t given up on that notion yet. And we’ll see where it takes us.”

After missing all of the 2011 season, Johan Santana returned to form quickly in 2012. He threw five shut-out innings in his first start on April 5 and carried a 2.76 ERA through the end of June. Unfortunately, the injury problems began to mount. An ankle sprain in July forced him to miss 24 games and cut into his effectiveness. In his final five starts, ending August 17, he had a 15.63 ERA in 19 innings. He was shut down for the rest of the season due to lower back inflammation.

If Santana, who turns 34 on March 13, is unable to get ready by Opening Day, 26-year-old lefty Jonathon Niese will likely get the nod.

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.