Rob Manfred “heavily favored” to be Bud Selig’s replacement

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For years Bud Selig’s presumed heir as commissioner was Rob Manfred. He handled CBA negotiations several times. Selig made him Chief Operating Officer last year. He was made A-Rod’s executioner. Seemed he was hand-picked.

But then we entered a somewhat extended period in which others were rumored to be of interest and some owners — particularly Jerry Reinsdorf of the White Sox — did not seem all that enamored of Bud picking his successor, more or less. Because, after all, the commissioner works for the owners.

Now, however, it seems like that uncertain period is over:

Maybe it was due diligence (i.e. you gotta talk to multiple candidates) maybe it was optics (i.e. the owners didn’t want to appear to roll over for Selig’s choice) or maybe Manfred really has all of the support he needs and has had it for some time. But it sure sounds like he’s the next man for the job.

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.