J.A. Happ plays spoiler in return to Philadelphia

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Be honest. If on Sunday night, somebody told you that the Braves were going to get swept in Colorado you probably would have guessed that the Phillies would have
picked up at least a game or two in the standings while playing the
lowly-Astros. Heck, I would have too. Let this series function as a reminder of why they play the games.

Just two days after Brett Myers stymied his former team, J.A. Happ did the same, allowing two runs on five hits over 6 1/3 innings as part of a 3-2 win over the Phils last night. He stuck around just long enough for the victory, as the Astros plated the go-ahead run on an RBI single by Humberto Quintero off Halladay in the top of the seventh.

Happ tried his best to treat last night’s start like he would any other game, but he told Brian McTaggart of MLB.com that he had some butterflies facing his former team.

“I’m a little relieved it’s over,” Happ said. “There were definitely
some nerves going out there and I didn’t know how I was going to feel.
Just like usual, once you get out there and get going, it’s just another
game … kind of.”

Alas, the Phillies remain where they started the week, sitting 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Braves. The Astros will go for the unlikely four-game road sweep when Wandy Rodriguez opposes Kyle Kendrick this afternoon. I’m guessing tensions will be pretty high. 

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.