Jeremy Hellickson to begin rehab assignment Saturday

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Rays right-handed starter Jeremy Hellickson has been out of commission since having arthroscopic surgery on his pitching elbow in February. But if all goes smoothly from here, he could be an option for the Tampa Bay rotation by the end of this month.

Hellickson told beat writer Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune on Wednesday afternoon that he is scheduled to begin a minor league rehab assignment on Saturday with the High-A Charlotte Stone Crabs. Hellickson threw 50 pitches over three-plus innings Monday in his final simulated game, so he should be able to make it through about four frames in his rehab debut.

The 27-year-old owns a 3.70 ERA in 576 1/3 career innings at the major league level.

Rays pitchers have a combined 4.13 ERA on the season, which ranks 22nd in the bigs.

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.