As we noted over the weekend, when second baseman Ian Kinsler was activated from the disabled list, the Rangers decided to keep Jurickson Profar in the majors rather than send him back down to Triple-A Round Rock. The plan is to use him in a super-utility role moving forward, which will likely include some exposure to the outfield for the first time in his professional career. The transition is already underway.
Profar doesn’t figure to stick there in the long-term, but it’s a worthwhile experiment for the scuffling Rangers. The 20-year-old has never played the outfield — not even in Little League — but he’s certainly athletic enough to handle the position. If he gets comfortable, he could provide a nice upgrade over David Murphy, who just hasn’t been able to get it going this season.
Profar is batting .277/.330/.386 with two home runs and seven RBI in 22 games since being called up from Triple-A Round Rock last month.
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.