Jordan Zimmermann makes first start in 13 months

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The event was overshadowed a bit by the introduction of Bryce Harper and the concern over Stephen Strasburg, but Jordan Zimmermann made his long-awaited return from Tommy John surgery in last night’s wild 11-10 extra-innings victory over the Cardinals.

Zimmermann looked decent enough over the first three innings, giving up one run on two hits and a walk, but the wheels came off after he served up a solo home run to Albert Pujols to begin the top of the fourth inning. The Cardinals would score four runs on five hits in the frame, ending Zimmermann’s night. The young right-hander allowed five runs on seven hits over four innings while striking out three, walking one and hitting a batter.

Considering that it was his first major league start in 13 months, you can bet the Nationals aren’t all that concerned about the results just yet. Besides, he showed excellent velocity, averaging 92.3 mph on his fastball, and told Bill Ladson of MLB.com that he walked away from the outing feeling healthy. That’s the important part.

“I felt good the whole time,” Zimmermann said. “The first three innings
were good. The fourth inning, I wish I could have over. Pujols hit that
home run. I was a little frustrated, and then I left a couple of balls
up and I got hit around a little bit.”

There’s still plenty of reason to believe he can build upon the promise of his rookie season. Unfortunately, it’s anybody’s guess when Zimmermann and Strasburg will actually be in the same starting rotation.
 

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.