Last year Chipper Jones threatened to retire before his contract ran out if he didn’t bounce back from his bad 2009. So far this season he’s hitting 230/.402/.368 with two homers. He says that’s good enough for him, however, and that he’s no longer considering hanging it up before 2012.
What’s convincing him: his walk rate. He’s tied for the league lead in walks and has a good on base percentage, and he says that “when I’m drawing walks you know I’m seeing the ball good.” He made a reference to his RBI totals being a function of not having a lot of people on base in front of him. He’s right about that, of course.
Still, the lack of power is a concern for me. As is, you may be surprised to hear, the batting average. Yes, OBP is more important, but if he doesn’t start showing that he can actually do something with balls in the strike zone, pitchers will throw away old scouting reports about not giving him anything good to hit and will start challenging him more. Based on what I’ve seen so far this season, I’m not completely optimistic that he can make them pay if they do.
Still, it’s nice to see the confidence, and the fact that Jason Heyward is back in the lineup tonight and is hitting second (second?! Yes, second) is reason enough for temporary optimism about Chipper Jones’ production.
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.