The weekend preceding the All-Star Game festivities is always fun because the list of actual All-Stars expands by about ten players as injured players step down and would-be snubs finally get their call. Today, American League Sunday starters Bartolo Colon of the Athletics, Hisashi Iwakuma of the Mariners, and Justin Verlander of the Tigers were declared inactive for the All-Star Game. Replacing them are Athletics reliever Grant Balfour, Royals reliever Greg Holland, and Orioles starter Chris Tillman.
On the National League side of things, Braves first baseman and NL Final Vote winner Freddie Freeman, Pirates starter Jeff Locke, and Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann were declared inactive. Their replacements include Braves catcher Brian McCann, Pirates reliever Mark Melancon, and Giants reliever Sergio Romo.
NL All-Stars Adam Wainwright and Travis Wood start against each other tonight, so both will need to be replaced by manager Bruce Bochy as well.
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.