Brandon Beachy wins the Braves’ fifth starter’s job

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It wasn’t much talked about this spring, but one of the more interesting  job competitions was for the Braves’ fifth starter’s job. The candidates: lefty Mike Minor and right hander Brandon Beachy.  Frank Wren announced today that Beachy is the victor, with Minor being sent down to, er, the minors.

This is one of those situations in which the better overall pitcher probably lost, but did so for understandable reasons.  Minor has way more upside than than Beachy — he was a first round pick whereas Beachy was an amateur free agent — but the Braves are in win-now mode and Beachy is a more finished product. If Atlanta wasn’t poised to compete, there would be a stronger temptation to see if Minor could swim in the big rapids.

Not that Beachy is any slouch. He was called up late last year and and made three good starts as the Braves clung to the wild card. Before that he seriously impressed in 35 appearances (13 of which were starts) in AAA and AA. Minor was himself impressive across AAA and AA, though he was more shaky during his nine appearances with the big club.

It wouldn’t be shocking to see both of these guys in the Braves’ rotation over the course of the season, and they’ll probably both have permanent homes there in 2012 and beyond. But for now Atlanta has gone with Beachy. And I tend to think it’s the right move.

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.