The Red Sox shuffle their outfield

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Mike Cameron has been activated, Darnell McDonald has been designated for assignment and Terry Francona has decided that Jacoby Ellsbury will stay in centerfield with Cameron manning left.  Let us unpack, shall we?

Good news for the Sox having Cameron back. He started slow before the injuries sapped him, but he appears to be feeling great now. He even hit a walkoff homer in his last minor league rehab assignment.

I like Ellsbury in centerfield. As his comments here suggest, he wasn’t comfy in left, and given how banged up everyone is, better to keep them in their comfort zone (and Ellsbury has more comfort in Fenway’s centerfield than Cameron does).

The McDonald DFA brought forth all kinds of “wow, tough break for him; what a shame there’s no way to keep him” sentiment among Boston scribes on Twitter last night.  Terry Francona was downright misty when he announced it.  I get that, I suppose, inasmuch as McDonald had a couple of big hits right after being called up when everything seemed so bleak for the Sox. But let’s face facts: McDonald was hitting .263/.320/.400, which is pretty much off-the-shelf production for a career minor leaguer called up to the bigs, and his defense wasn’t all that good either.

I’m not criticizing the Boston writers for their sympathies for the guy. Just noting that while the east coast media are often described as tougher than nails and highly critical, they have their sappy side too. Indeed, it seems like every other year either the Boston or New York people fall in love with some amiable-yet-replaceable fill-in like McDonald at the same moment they’re ripping someone who is actually a key contributor to the team.

They’re not always good, not always bad. Just . . .complicated.   

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.

Yadier Molina will not enter contract negotiations during the 2017 season

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Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina is still open to extension talks during the last week of spring training. Once Opening Day rolls around, however, Molina has preemptively nixed any contract negotiations until the end of the 2017 season, when he’s scheduled to hit free agency.

Molina wants to stay with the Cardinals, or so he’s telling reporters, but he’s also “not afraid” to test the free agent market this fall should a deal fail to materialize. Via Goold:

I would love to stay, but at the same time I’m not afraid to go to free agency. I’ve still got many years in the tank. Believe me. I feel great. I feel like a 20-year-old kid. I’m not afraid to go to free agency.

The 34-year-old backstop is entering his final year under contract, though Goold points out that he has a $15 million option for 2018 that he can choose to decline in the event that it’s exercised by the team. He’s reportedly searching for a figure closer to those made by other top catchers like Buster Posey and Russell Martin.

The 2017 season will mark Molina’s 14th year in the Cardinals’ organization, building on a career that has spanned seven All-Star campaigns, nine postseason runs and two World Series championships in St. Louis. He batted .307/.360/.427 with eight home runs and a .787 OPS for the club in 2016.