I post this less to wallow in Jeter nostalgia — we got a lot of that these days — than I do to marvel at the fact that Derek Jeter’s first All-Star Game was in 1998.
If you would have asked me I would’ve bet an awful lot that he was in the Mid-Summer Classic before that. He was Rookie of the Year in 1996 and was a key cog in helping the Yankees win the World Series that year. He was a force in the AL playoffs that year and while his World Series numbers weren’t that good, there was this sense as you watched him that fall that he was Baseball’s Next Big Star.
But the mid-90s were a long time ago, and as we sit here now it’s easy to forget that that’s when a lot of amazing shortstops walked the Earth, especially in the American League. Cal Ripken had a vice-lock on the fan vote. Alex Rodriguez had already posted an amazing couple of seasons. Nomar Garciaparra broke onto the scene in 1997 (and Jeter’s 1997 was a down year for him) There was just so much darn competition at the position then.
So 1998 it was. And here, courtesy of MLB Productions, is what The Captain looked like back then:
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.