Eyeing Grady Sizemore's brutal start

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pained sizemore.jpgThe bruised knee that knocked Grady Sizemore out of Sunday’s game and is sidelining him again Monday might have been the best thing that could have happened to the 27-year-old center fielder. He may not want to, but he definitely needs to sit back and watch a couple of games.
There were reasons to be concerned about Sizemore headed into this year, most of them having to do with his surgically repaired left elbow. He didn’t perform at nearly his usual level before shutting it down in 2008, and it remained to be seen whether his power would come all of the way back after his arm problems.
But then Sizemore went and hit .364/.500/.614 with just five strikeouts in 44 at-bats this spring. Questions answered, or so it seemed.
Sizemore, though, has been positively terrible this year. He’s hitting just .211/.271/.289 through 128 at-bats. He’s drawn a mere nine walks after working 12 in spring training, and he’s struck out 35 times. He’s also without a homer, though he did hit his first earlier this month on a game that was unfortunately halted and postponed due to rain.
If it were just the power, that’d be one thing. However, Sizemore’s offensive game has completely fallen apart. Most players with weaker-than-expected batting averages this time of year are probably experiencing some poor luck on balls in play. Sizemore, though, is hitting a reasonable .287 there. When he hits a liner, it’s generally falling in. It’s the simple act of making contact that’s giving Sizemore trouble.
Just look at Sizemore’s plate discipline chart over at Fangraphs. Even if you don’t know what the numbers mean, you can see how consistent Sizemore was in previous years and how much things have changed this season. Most notably, Sizemore is swinging at pitches outside of the strike zone far more often than ever before. He’s at about 180 percent of his career rate there.
But that’s not to say he’s suddenly swinging at everything. He’s actually swinging at fewer pitches inside the strike zone. While his overall swing rate is up a bit, it’s still pretty modest. But since he’s swinging at bad pitches, his overall contact rate is way down.
Of 178 qualified hitters, Sizemore ranks 161st in the percentage of swings in which he makes contact. He’s at 73.4 right now. Sizemore has always struck out plenty, in part because he takes plenty of pitches, but in a typical year, he’s right around the 50th percentile when it comes to making contact.
If I ran the Indians, I’d politely request that Sizemore undergo an eye exam to see if anything has changed there. If that’s not the problem, then, yeah, Sizemore needs to kick back and watch a few games. Maybe the power isn’t going to come back anytime soon, but he can stop getting himself out.

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.