MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan is reporting that the Rangers will activate outfielder Nelson Cruz in time for Monday’s Game 163 against the Rays. Cruz finished serving his 50-game suspension handed down by commissioner Bud Selig for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal.
Cruz left with an .841 OPS in 452 trips to the plate, ranking among the more productive outfielders in the league. Had he not been suspended, he almost certainly would have hit another seven home runs to surpass his career-high of 33. The Rangers acquired Alex Rios from the White Sox on August 9 to fill his shoes. Though Rios didn’t supply as much power, he added a speed dimension, stealing 16 bases in 17 attempts between his Rangers debut and the end of Sunday’s action.
Rangers president of baseball operations and general manager Jon Daniels did not say if Cruz would be in the lineup, stating that the decision is up to manager Ron Washington.
Meanwhile, Cruz is excited to be back. From Sullivan’s article:
“We’re playing really good baseball, and the guys are excited,” Cruz said. “I’m excited, and I’m happy to be back and be with my teammates and play the game that I love.”
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.