Francoeur to be given the green light to steal

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Francoeur Mets.jpegMets fans OK with this?

Francoeur says he never learned how to steal bases with the Braves,
explaining that it wasn’t part of Atlanta’s offensive philosophy. But
it is part of Manuel’s plans. So this spring he’s told Francoeur he
wants him to run more, and now the Mets right fielder is trying to
learn how.

Francoeur is 15 for 30 career in stolen bases. He’s right that stealing was never anything he was asked to do in Atlanta, so I suppose it’s possible that he could do it if he works at it a bit.

But isn’t it also possible that, since running was never part of the Braves’ strategy, his opportunities to do so as a Brave came in only the safest situations (e.g. against horrible throwing catchers and in really favorable hitter’s counts)? If so, couldn’t that mean that he’s an even worse base stealer than that not-acceptable 50% success rate suggests? Chipper Jones isn’t any faster than Francoeur and he’s a career 76% base stealer. Andruw Jones is 71%. Marcus Giles 73%. We’re obviously not dealing with tremendously large sample sizes here, but I think don’t think we can say that Francoeur’s 50% caught stealing rate is meaningless simply because the Braves run less than everyone else.

More generally, and not to put too fine a point on it, it strikes me that you’d want to keep the game as simple as possible for Jeff Francoeur. Trying to teach him some plate discipline should be priority number one, but beyond that, let the dude just try to hit it as hard as he can and hope for the best.

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.