The investigation into Charlie Samuels takes another interesting turn

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More details have emerged regarding the gambling investigation into Mets clubhouse manager Charlie Samuels. And while I acknowledge that some of the following may be pretty innocent in nature, it doesn’t make them any less curious under the circumstances.

Per the New York Daily News:

According to law enforcement sources close to the probe being conducted by the Queens DA’s office and the NYPD’s Organized Crime and Control Bureau, the probe has revealed that Samuels:

* Received a $50,000 tip from outfielder Jeff Francoeur before Francoeur left the Mets for the World Series-bound Rangers earlier this season;

* Provided Francisco Rodriguez with a place to stay in his home after the closer was ordered by a Queens judge to stay away from his common-law wife following an altercation with her father at Citi Field in August.

* Once received a new Lexus from Mike Piazza, whose father had lost a bet to Samuels on how much weight the elder Piazza could lose.

I have never worked in an MLB locker room, but I would imagine that expensive gifts aren’t something out of the ordinary. As much as we needle Jeff Francoeur here, it would be unfair to jump to conclusions. The most curious part, at least to me, is that Francisco Rodriguez was so down on his luck that he had to shack up with the clubhouse manager. This is a multi-million dollar athlete we’re dealing with here, not Samuel’s cubicle-mate. Just plain odd.

Does any of this mean that Rodriguez was involved in any wrong-doing? Of course not. In fact, sources told the Daily News that Rodriguez is not part of the probe and that there is “no evidence so far that K-Rod did anything wrong, no gambling or anything else.” Still, when you are this close to this many players for so long, the extent of those past relationships will be thoroughly investigated. Just part of the process.

Hey, at least give the Mets credit for consistency. Whenever a story first surfaces about them, it’s just the appetizer for the main course of craziness.

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.