Ballparks should install nets down the lines

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New York Times’ blogger Tyler Kepner is impressed with the safety measures at Turner Field:

Turner Field is the second ballpark the Yankees have seen this
season with protective netting that extends beyond the norm. Every
stadium has a tall screen behind the plate to protect the fans from
hard-hit foul balls. Here in Atlanta, the Braves also have a shorter
screen, maybe eight feet off the ground, running in front of the seats
behind the on-deck circles on either side of the plate . . . Such
safety measures make sense, and should be in place at every ballpark.

Kepner cites the death of Mike Coolbaugh as a cautionary tale, and
notes how quickly baseball would act if the unthinkable happened and a
fan was killed by a foul ball. Such a thing is not unthinkable in my
hometown of Columbus, Ohio, however. That’s because a thirteen year-old girl was killed by an errant puck
during a Columbus Blue Jackets hockey game seven years ago. That
incident led to the implementation of mandatory netting at either end
of the rink in every arena. Before the incident there were all kinds of
arguments against putting up such nets. Afterward, those arguments lost
all currency.

The same applies to baseball. I’m sure people can construct all
kinds of arguments as to why they shouldn’t extend protective netting
down the lines. But in light of how big, strong, fast and, above all
else, close Major League batters are to the fans these days, none of
those arguments are enough to overcome the sheer logic and prudence
which dictates putting up some nets.

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.