Kevin Kouzmanoff thought “where do I fit?” while A’s pursued other third basemen

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Last offseason the A’s acquired Kevin Kouzmanoff from the Padres in the hopes he’d be their long-term answer at third base, but after a career-worst season that saw him hit just .247 with a measly .679 OPS the team claimed Edwin Encarnacion off waivers and made a big offer to free agent Adrian Beltre.

Oakland eventually non-tendered Encarnacion and Beltre signed an $80 million deal with the Rangers, but the team’s pursuit of other third basemen left Kouzmanoff with a bruised ego and questions about his future with the A’s.

Here’s some of what Kouzmanoff told Jane Lee of MLB.com about the situation:

I knew the A’s had some money to spend. Beltre’s a good ballplayer, and he was in high demand. There I am kind of sitting off to the side thinking, “Where do I fit? Obviously, the A’s don’t really like me that much at third base if they’re trying to get another third baseman.” But at the same time, I’m also realizing it’s just business, and if they can lock someone down for a certain number of years, an All-Star third baseman who can hit 25 to 30 home runs in the Coliseum, then I really have no say in it.

I think if they were happy with me at third base, they wouldn’t consider going out and getting someone else. I knew for sure that if they were going to get Beltre that I was gone. I’m still here, though, and I want to do the best I can. I’ve worked hard this offseason. I’m hitting baseballs, trying to get faster, getting in good shape. I want to prove to them that I can play third base just as good as anybody else. I feel great.

All things considered Kouzmanoff has handled the situation pretty well, and made it clear to Lee that he was as disappointed as anyone with his performance last season. Oakland may have missed out on Beltre and decided against keeping Encarnacion, but if Kouzmanoff doesn’t bounce back significantly this season they’ll likely cut him loose next winter regardless of the other options at third base. He’s due for a raise to $4-5 million via arbitration this year and would be even more expensive in 2012.

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.