Albert Pujols expecting to debut at first base on Tuesday

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From beat writer Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com:

Albert Pujols expects to make his first start at first base on Tuesday, which comes after an off day and will see the Angels play the Brewers in Maryvale, Ariz.

The Angels won’t utilize the designated hitter that day, playing under National League rules so their starting pitcher (Jason Vargas) can hit for the first time this spring.

Pujols began serving as the Angels’ DH in Cactus League games on March 5 and ditched his designated runner last week. He told reporters on Sunday morning in Angels camp that his surgically-repaired right knee feels good enough now to handle defensive play.

Pujols is 6-for-17 (.353/.389/.765) with two homers and four RBI through six spring games.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.