CSN Washington’s Mark Zuckerman suggests that Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper could return to the team on Monday, the final day of June. Harper will play seven innings in right field in tonight’s game, then will play a full nine in center on Friday. Following an off-day on Saturday, Harper will play in left field on Sunday. The Nationals will gauge his progress from there.
Harper has been on the disabled list since April 26 after suffering a torn UCL in his left thumb on a head-first slide. Up until the injury, Harper had slashed .289/.352/.422 with one home run and nine RBI in 91 plate appearances. Getting Harper back would be a boost for the Nationals, who enter Thursday’s action with a tenuous one-game first place lead in the NL East.
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.