I’m still irked at T.J. Simers’ weapons-grade idiocy in his Marcus Thames column. And a lot of what is animating that is something that I neglected to mention in the last post on it: Marcus Thames is a really, really nice guy. I’ve never met him, but several reporters I know have talked about him being warm and friendly, as have several fans who have had the privilege to root for him or meet him. No, he’s not a five-tool player. No, he’s not a superstar. But that’s kinda not the point.
A few minutes ago reader PierzynskiAteMyKitten — um, viva pseudonyms — posted his own Thames recollection:
Thames is a class act, and it’s painful to see him attacked like this. While with the Tigers, he was always mentioned in the same sentence as Granderson as one of the truly good guys in baseball.
Here’s my little Thames anecdote: while he was rehabbing with the Toledo Mud Hens, I saw him play my local Durham Bulls. It was a drizzly day, and I was one of the few fans in the stands, and one of even fewer to be dressed in full Tigers regalia near the Mud Hens dugout. There was another family of Tigers fans near me, including several young kids, also in full Tigers gear. Before the game, Thames came over and chatted with us for a while, and then gave the kids a boatload of gear, including a bat, balls, and batting gloves. It was by far the coolest interaction I’ve ever had with a pro baseball player.
This is who Simers decided to belittle. This is who Simers decided to go after when he had a case of writer’s block. I realize it’s hard for Simers, what with him having written nine entire items in the month of March so far, to come up with new material, but one would think that he’d choose a different target to attack when he felt the need.
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 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.