Nationals may look into replacing Dukes with Dye

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After releasing Elijah Dukes this morning the Nationals may look to replace him with Jermaine Dye, according to MLB.com’s Bill Ladson.
Ladson notes that platooning the left-handed-hitting Willie Harris with right-handed hitters Justin Maxwell or Mike Morse in right field is the Nationals’ most likely post-Dukes plan, but adds that “they do have interest in” Dye if things don’t work out with the in-house options (general manager Mike Rizzo denied any specific discussions about Dye).
Dye hit .250/.340/.453 with 27 homers in 141 games last season for the White Sox, which is more or less average production for a right fielder. However, he’s also 36 years old, batted just .179 in the second half, and is pretty terrible defensively at this point. Dye had a 103 adjusted OPS+ last season. Dukes’ career adjusted OPS+ is 104, and he’s a decade younger with a much better glove.
Of course, Dye certainly won’t cause as many headaches as Dukes and that seems to have been the driving force behind this morning’s move regardless of how many times the Nationals insist it was done strictly for “baseball reasons.” Generally speaking 25-year-old players don’t get released for “baseball reasons” when they still have minor-league options remaining. They get sent to the minors or waived or traded or designated for assignment, but usually not released.

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.