First-third awards – AL Rookie of the Year

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Toronto’s Scott Richmond was the AL’s top rookie during April, but he’s
since fallen behind four players, all of whom have a case for Rookie of
the Year honors to date:

Elvis Andrus (SS Rangers) – While Matt Wieters, Nolan Reimold, Aaron
Cunningham and others still have plenty of time to make up ground,
Andrus is the only AL rookie position player to already have two solid
months under his belt. The 20-year-old is batting .285/.333/.424 with
nine steals in 10 tries. It’s hardly a spectacular line, especially
considering that it’s being inflated by playing in Arlington. However,
it’s the smaller part of what he’s doing. His glovework at short has
been a difference maker for a team that’s going from a 5.37 ERA in 2008
to a 4.56 mark so fat this year.

Andrew Bailey (RHP Athletics) – With a 2.12 ERA in 34 innings,
Bailey has been one of the AL’s top relievers, and the peripherals back
up the numbers, as he’s struck out 40 and allowed just 20 hits on the
season. Of course, he’ll need to seize the closer’s role on a full-time
basis in order to stay in the Rookie of the Year race. Holds won’t get
it done.

Josh Outman (LHP Athletics) – An uptick in velocity has made Outman
one of the game’s hardest-throwing left-handed starters, and it’s
translated into plenty of success over the last five weeks. He’s 3-0
with a 2.49 ERA in his last seven starts. Command is an issue, so he’s
no lock to stay in the hunt. However, there’s been nothing fluky about
his success so far.

Rick Porcello (RHP Tigers) – Even though he hasn’t been allowed to
throw more than 95 pitches in an outing this season, Porcello has
managed to work deep enough into games to win six times in 12 starts.
He has a 3.70 ERA thanks to his power sinker, and if the Tigers decide
to be a little less restrictive with his pitch count later this season,
he could go after more strikeouts with his curve. The Tigers, though,
will likely be very careful with him all year long, and they’ll likely
shut him down in early or mid-September if they fall out of contention.

First-third AL ROY

1. Porcello
2. Andrus
3. Bailey

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.