Rangers likely done pursuing Mike Lowell after claiming Ryan Garko off waivers

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Cut by the Mariners earlier this week, Ryan Garko has been claimed off waivers by the Rangers and fits as the right-handed bench bat manager Ron Washington has been clamoring for recently.
His arrival seemingly also makes the Rangers significantly less likely to trade for Mike Lowell, because Garko is every bit as good a platoon partner for the left-handed-hitting Chris Davis at first base. Over the past three seasons Garko has hit .311 with an .882 OPS versus left-handed pitching, which is nearly identical to Lowell batting .314 with an .881 OPS versus southpaws during that same span.
Garko isn’t much of a defender even at first base, whereas Lowell can play first base and third base (if healthy), but the Rangers don’t give Michael Young many days off at the hot corner anyway. And certainly Garko being seven years younger and a whole lot healthier is a big factor as well. Seattle opted to keep Mike Sweeney over Garko, which may prove to weaken the Mariners and help their division-mates in Texas.
And now the Red Sox may have to find a new trade partner for Lowell, who seems all but guaranteed to remain in Boston beyond Opening Day.

Steven Matz to skip next spring training start with elbow issues

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Mets’ left-hander Steven Matz will miss his Grapefruit League appearance on Monday after experiencing soreness in his left elbow, according to a report by Mike Puma of the New York Post. Matz reportedly first felt discomfort in his elbow on Wednesday after pitching four innings against the Marlins, but a medical evaluation revealed no structural damage.

Still, it’s unsettling news for the 25-year-old, who is coming off of an injury-riddled 2016 season. Matz pitched to a 3.40 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 8.8 SO/9 during his sophomore campaign with the Mets, but his success was hampered by a bevy of shoulder and elbow issues that culminated in season-ending surgery to remove bone spurs from his left elbow.

Comments from Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson indicated that while the club doesn’t believe anything is significantly wrong with Matz’s elbow this time around, the setback could have an impact on his chances of cracking the Opening Day roster. Until he’s cleared to return to the mound, the club is expected to take a longer look at rotation candidates Robert Gsellman, Zack Wheeler and Seth Lugo.

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.