Tim Hudson's return

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I gave it short shrift in the recaps this morning, but Tim Hudson’s return to the Braves is worth a few more words and thoughts.

I didn’t see the game, and even if was televised where I live I probably wouldn’t have watched it due to the 3+ hour rain delay that kicked things off.  But friend of CTB tHeMARksMiTh watched it, and he gives us a scouting report:

Sinker — excellent movement and velocity (89 and 90 mph) but relatively poor command;

Cutter/Slider — indistinguishable between the two pitches; sat around 85; little movement and barely noticeable;

Changeup/Splitter — good movement but pretty poor command;

Curveball — didn’t throw it much, but when he did, it was a good one; don’t really remember him throwing it much but he should;

Velocity — very good and around where he was when he left off which is fairly impressive;

Command — not there but was around the plate, and I imagine this will come with time.

The first inning was a bit rough. He left a couple pitches up to Coughlan and Helms, which were hit hard, but he was fine for the rest of the inning. Cantu got jammed but flipped it into center, but it’s worth mentioning that Hudson missed his spot by about three feet. After that, lots of ground balls and few runs. He definitely wasn’t sharp, but I don’t think anyone expected him to be. Still, I was encouraged that the velocity and movement were there.

Fair enough.  Command really is the problem for guys coming back from Tommy John surgery, and his lack of command is a continuation of what he was doing on his rehab start. Velocity, surprisingly, tends to come back more quickly.  In any event, Hudson’s start was encouraging, even if we can’t expect him to be the difference maker in the wild card race. 

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.