They will take the bat away from Julio Franco when they pry it from his cold, dead hands:
The Million Stars are part of Japan’s independent “Challenge League.” Also on that team: Eri Yoshida, the woman knuckleballer who made some headlines stateside a few years back.
Franco is 56. Last year he served as a player-manager for the Fort Worth Cats of the independent United Baseball League. He last played in the bigs in 2007 at 49. He was still a very useful big leaguer back when he was with the Braves between the ages of 43 and 47. After the nuclear war, he’ll be the last ballplayer standing, I guarantee it.
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.