Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro flew home to the Dominican Republic last Wednesday following the death of his cousin and three close friends in a car wreck. He is back in the Cubs’ lineup Tuesday, having been activated from the bereavement list, but will be playing with a heavy heart in the Cubs’ series-opener at Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park.
“It’s a really tough time, man,” Castro told the Chicago Sun-Times on Tuesday. “The only guy that knows [why] is God. He knows how things happen. I had to be there no matter what, to go there and take that time. But I’m happy to get back. I’m feeling bad, but I’m here and I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing.”
The 24-year-old is having a resurgent 2014 campaign, batting .284/.333/.429 with 13 home runs and 64 RBI in 125 games after batting just .245/.284/.347 with 10 home runs and 44 RBI across 162 games in 2013.
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.