Edinson Volquez likely a member of Reds' playoff rotation

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When pundits turn in their predictions in the coming weeks for this year’s version of the MLB postseason, our guess is the Reds aren’t going to be crowned as champions by many scribes.

Maybe part of that has to do with the club’s lack of playoff experience, and maybe part is based on Cincinnati’s generally lackadaisical attitude toward the team.  Others will point to the Reds’ starting rotation, which is now without stud rookie Mike Leake and probably the least talented among baseball’s playoff-bound teams.

Cincy’s three-man October rotation will most likely consist of Bronson Arroyo, who has a 4.05 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 30 starts this season, Johnny Cueto, 12-5 with a 3.31 ERA in 28 starts, and, according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Edinson Volquez.

Volquez spent a large chunk of the 2010 season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and serving a 50-game suspension for a positive PED test.  But he threw seven shutout innings and struck out 10 batters last week against Pittsburgh and allowed just six hits and fanned seven in 6 2/3 innings today against the Diamondbacks.

“He’s throwing it as well as anybody we have right now,” Reds manager Dusty Baker told the Enquirer Thursday. “That’s a positive sign. … His endurance is up. His velocity is up. … His tempo, rhythm and overall delivery are
better. He’s not forcing it. He’s letting it flow.”

The Reds are currently eight games up on the Cardinals in the National League Central.  Within the next week or two, they will be celebrating the organization’s first playoff berth since 1995.

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.