The Rockies just announced that first baseman Todd Helton was placed on the 15-day disabled list with left forearm inflammation. The 39-year-old hasn’t played since last Friday, so the Rockies didn’t want to go short-handed on their roster any longer.
Ryan Wheeler, who was acquired from the Diamondbacks over the winter in exchange for left-hander Matt Reynolds, has been called up to take Helton’s place on the roster and will offer depth at first base and the hot corner. The 24-year-old batted .239/.294/.339 with one home run, 10 RBI and a .634 OPS over 119 plate appearances as a rookie last season. He was hitting .348/.407/.565 with two home runs, 16 RBI and a .973 OPS over his first 15 games this season in Triple-A.
Some speculated that Tyler Colvin would get the call if Helton required a stint on the disabled list, but he’ll remain in Triple-A for now. The 27-year-old is hitting .309 (17-for-55) with four home runs, eight RBI and a .963 OPS over his first 15 games with the Sky Sox this season. He batted .290/.327/.531 with 18 home runs, 72 RBI and an .858 OPS in 136 games with the Rockies last year.
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.