The Mets attempt to make K-Rod's contract non-guaranteed is a dumb P.R. game

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The Mets putting K-Rod on the disqualified list yesterday was a tough but defensible move. I think the union will fight it because, in essence, the Mets are punishing K-Rod twice for the same conduct, but it’s at least possible that it will stick.

The Mets declaration that K-Rod’s contract is non-guaranteed going forward, however, is basically without precedent and will cause the MLBPA to scorch the Earth in order to get it overturned. I mean, it’s one thing to discipline K-Rod for being a jackass, but it’s another thing altogether to threaten one of the most significant accomplishments in sports labor history (i.e. baseball’s guaranteed contracts).

If I had to guess, the move to make the deal non-guaranteed was a move designed to placate angry fans and tabloids. The Mets, having determined that they couldn’t void the deal, wanted to do the next toughest thing.  The problem, though, is that they apparently have no right under the CBA to do it and they’ll ultimately be unsuccessful.  And, since the union is fighting anyway, they’ll likely put more gusto into their attack on the decision to put K-Rod on the disqualified list than they may have otherwise done, which may lead to less of a punishment than he might have otherwise received.

The upshot: the Mets gave the union a reason to fight hard when it may have left well enough alone (even the MLBPA isn’t immune to the PR concerns here, and K-Rod is tough to defend right now), and their overreach may very well bite them in the ass.

Of course, this is the Mets, and they have an uncanny knack for taking a situation in which they have the high ground and frittering it away in the end.

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.