Did the Yankees rig the fifth starter's race?

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That’s what Joel Sherman of the Post says. Except, contrary to what I thought when I read his headline, he doesn’t think it was Joba Chamberlain who got short shrift, it was Sergio Mitre. Sherman suggests that Mitre’s superior spring training stats would have won him the fifth starter’s job over Hughes had things been on the up-and-up. Which assumes that you chose your starting pitchers based on spring training stats alone as opposed to the long term well-being of the team, which Hughes — and Chamberlain — represents far more than Sergio Mitre does.  If Cashman had made his choice of fifth starter based on spring training stats alone he’d be doing the organization a massive disservice.

Sherman likewise calls the centerfield competition between Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner “rigged.”  Which is likewise silly because it’s not at all clear that there ever was a proper competition. The Yankees wanted to make sure Granderson could still handle center, sure, but I don’t recall anyone connected with the team declaring it an open competition.  Gardner had the same chance of starting in center this year that my backup propane tank had in grilling my steaks last night: they could be deployed if necessary, but as long as the primary option was up to the job it wasn’t gonna happen.

Gardner is like my propane tank in another way too: both I and the Yankees could do better. Next spring I’m going with a proper charcoal grill. Next spring the Yankees are going with Carl Crawford. I think we’ll both be happier because of it.

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.