Big changes in Anaheim. Ernesto Frieri, who has spent most of the past three seasons as the Angels’ closer has been relieved of his duties. Mike Scioscia said that Joe Smith will now take over as the team’s closer.
Frieri has been a train wreck in 2014. He has allowed nine runs on fourteen hits in eight and two-thirds innings over ten appearances so far. In his last appearance, on Wednesday, he gave up four runs to blow a three-run lead and the game against the Nationals. Manager Mike Scioscia said that it’s a mechanical problem with Frieri and that, until he can figure out his release point, Frieri will pitch in lower-leverage situations, though likely not in the eighth inning.
Smith has exactly three saves in 450 career big league appearances.
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.