Ernie Banks to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom

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Why give him just one medal? Let’s give him two!

President Barack Obama announced Thursday that Hall of Famers Ernie Banks and Dean Smith are among those who will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest civilian honor. According to the White House, this award is given to individuals “who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

Banks has been a fantastic ambassador for the game and is, by all accounts a wonderful human being. He will join Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Joe DiMaggio, Stan Musial, Buck O’Neil, Frank Robinson, Jackie Robinson and Ted Williams as Medal of Freedom recipients from the game of baseball.

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.