Jim Leyland won’t discuss his contract status … starting now

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Jim Leyland is in the final season of his contract, but today the 66-year-old manager responded to questions about his status by saying “I’m not going to discuss it.” And then he discussed it. A lot, actually:

If we do all right, I assume I’ll be here. If we don’t, I probably won’t be. People write about all this pressure. There’s no pressure on me other than to win games. I love to win baseball games. I want to win a division and get to the postseason. Other than that, there’s no pressure on me whatsoever. I’m not going to listen to that silly stuff about the last year of my contract. I’ve been going through that for a hundred years. I don’t really give a care about that, and I’m not going to discuss it.

I’ve been reading all this and that. It’s simple. If you don’t win, people point fingers. Sometimes it’s the manager. Sometimes it’s the players. Sometimes it’s the general manager. But it doesn’t make any difference to me. We’re out here to win games. If we’re in the middle of a game, we’re not thinking about our jobs. We’re thinking about how to beat the other team, win as many games as we can. That’s what we do for a living.

So I’m not going to discuss all that silly stuff. That’s for the writers to gossip about and put in the paper and all that. I’ve been reading that stuff for a while now. I don’t pay any attention to that. I mean, they know in Japan that this is the last year of my contract, because it’s been written about enough.

Jason Beck of MLB.com has a lot more where all that came from.

Leyland saying “sometimes it’s the general manager” is interesting, because Dave Dombrowski is also in the final year of his contract and the GM made a pair of bold, risky free agent signings in Victor Martinez and Joaquin Benoit. I have the Tigers pegged as co-favorites in the AL Central alongside the Twins and White Sox, but Detroit finished 81-81 last year and hasn’t won a division title since 1987.

After filling up reporters’ notebooks with quotes about his contract status, Leyland ended the media session by saying: “But that’s the end of that stuff for the whole year. I’m not talking about that.”

We’ll see how long that moratorium lasts. My guess is the answer will be “whenever the Tigers have their first extended losing streak.”

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.