The Angels said the strain was diagnosed between grades 1 and 2. There are three grades of hamstring strains, lower being less serious.
Valbuena, 31, suffered the injury in
One possibility is a slow-developing ailment.
He played only 10 Cactus League games while bothered by general leg soreness he said centered in his thigh.
A longtime third baseman, Valbuena had played only 10 innings at the position. He was to be the team's primary first baseman.
"We're counting on him a lot this year," Manager
Because of a severe injury to the same hamstring, Valbuena played his last game of 2016 with the
Valbuena played eight games in the Venezuelan winter league in an attempt to prove he was healthy, then signed a two-year contract with the Angels in January that included a mutual option for 2019.
The deal took a long time to come together. When it was finalized, Angels General Manager Billy Eppler said the majority of Valbuena's at-bats would come at first base, which pushed C.J. Cron from the lineup to the bench and into trade talks. Infielder Jefry Marte, who had a breakout season in 2016, , was likely to begin the season in triple A.
Asked then about the possibility of trading from his surplus, Eppler said he preferred to get through the spring before making a decision.
The Angels almost survived the spring without a significant injury. They break camp Wednesday, play a three-game Freeway Series against the Dodgers, and then begin their season April 3 in Oakland.
Without Valbuena until May, Cron will be counted upon, and Marte is much more likely to make the opening day roster. Both players are performing well in the Cactus League.
In the midst of the hottest stretch of Cron's career last July, an errant fastball hit him in the wrist, breaking his hand. At the time, he had driven in 17 runs eight games into a trip. He was out six weeks and finished the season with a .278 average, .325 on-base percentage, and .467 slugging mark, down some from that high point.
He then underwent a second surgery, on his thumb, a month into the off-season.
Now, he'll have another chance to excel in an everyday role.
"Hopefully, he's grown as a hitter and matured," Scioscia said. "He'll certainly be getting a lot of those at-bats at first base right now."