Prying Francoeur from the Braves

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The other day Yahoo!’s Gordon Edes was reporting
that the Red Sox were scouting Jeff Francoeur. I kind of doubt it
actually, given that Francoeur is pretty much the polar opposite of
what Theo Epstein, Bill James and the rest of that gang in Boston looks
for in a player. My guess: if Red Sox people were in Atlanta, they were
advance scouting the Blue Jays.

But let’s say it’s true, and the Sox truly are interested in Failcouer.
What should the Braves expect back for him? If I were Frank Wren I’d
probably be happy with anything north of a kick to the groin, and I’d
consider the kick to the groin for a good long while if it meant
ditching Frenchy. But I’m not Frank Wren and I have a hard time
handicapping trades. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is stumped too, so they threw the question out to their readers.
Among the actual responses they received were “A bag of beans”; “20
bats and they pay his ticket out of town”; “A ham sandwich to be named
later”; “air”; and “Ortiz.” I’m not sure whether that last one is a
bigger insult to Big Papi or Francoeur. That ham sandwich offer seems
pretty sweet though.

While this is an obviously unscientific survey, it does have some
value: it challenges the assumption the Braves seem to have that
local-boy Francoeur is some uber-popular guy in Atlanta who must be
given more latitude to stink than other players are. He’s not, and even
the message board posters of the AJC — where the worst of the
Francoeur apologists tend to reside — have turned on him.

What that means, I think, is that unless that offer of the ham
sandwich — or even the kick to the groin — becomes available, Frank
Wren has the cover to designate baseball’s biggest out machine for
assignment.

Video: Andrew Toles hammers grand slam in Cactus League win

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Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.

Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).

Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.

David Price’s season debut could be pushed back to May

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David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.

Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:

[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.

The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.