Dexter Fowler doesn’t think giving up switch-hitting is the answer

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Slumping center fielder Dexter Fowler probably would have been sent down by the Rockies last week if not for a strained abdominal muscle that put him on the disabled list instead, but he doesn’t believe that quitting switch-hitting will give his flailing career a boost.

The 25-year-old Fowler, in his third full season with the Rockies, is a natural right-handed hitter.  In his career, he’s hit .282/.369/.414 as a righty and .243/.339/.380 hitter as a lefty.

MLB.com’s Thomas Harding reported that Jim Tracy is on board with Fowler as a switch-hitter for now, but believes a change might be inevitable if Fowler’s numbers continue to go south.  Fowler posted a .770 OPS as a rookie last year and a .757 mark last season, but he’s down to .688 at the moment.

Fowler has also been a disaster away from Coors Field in his career, with an OPS nearly 200 points lower on the road.  He’s hit .225/.313/.333 in 172 career away games.

The Rockies opted to move Carlos Gonzalez back to center field when Fowler landed on the DL, and expectations are that Fowler is in for a lengthy rehab assignment before he makes it back to Denver.  If Fowler doesn’t excel at Triple-A, he’ll probably be optioned to the minors for a spell.

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.