If there was any shred of hope in the Damon-Boras camp that the Braves may pick up Johnny Damon, consider it gone.
A team source tells me that the Braves discussed Damon recently, and the clear sense of the room was that (a) his arm just won’t play in the Turner Field outfield; (b) he’s just not versatile enough to move around, and the Braves want to be able to move around their outfielders this year; and (c) he’s going to want too much money.
On this last point, Braves brass thinks that Damon is going to go for $4-5 million, probably to the Athletics, and they’re not at all inclined to pay that price for him. They’d reconsider if he went cheaper, but they just don’t care enough for him to think about making a bid.
And one last bit making Damon less necessary in the team’s eyes: while everyone — myself included — assumes that the Braves are going to keep Jason Heyward down on the farm until Mother’s Day to keep his service time from running, the Braves are in no way predisposed to do this. To the contrary, they would love to break camp with him, and are taking a “it’s his job to lose” approach this spring.
Overall, the front office is quite optimistic about the team’s chances this year. More so than they’ll let on publicly for risk of creating unrealistic expectations. Whatever the case, I think the takeaway here is that it may be best to view whatever the team does this year as an act being taken by people who think that the Braves will be in the playoffs.
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 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.