David Eckstein isn’t even playing, but he still leads the league in “grit and desire”

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David Eckstein visited his brother, Washington pitching coach Rick Eckstein, before yesterday’s Nationals-Angels game and told Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times that he’s not officially retired despite turning down multiple offers from teams this offseason.

In fact, Eckstein revealed that he turned down an offer from an undisclosed team last month, although presumably it was for a minor-league contract.

According to Eckstein he decided not to play, instead spending the past few months working for his wife, actress Ashley Drane, but is fine physically and has not ruled out a return at age 36.

DiGiovanna noted that Eckstein “shrugged his shoulders” when asked if he would play again and then wrote the usual Eckstein cliches:

Much of David Eckstein’s value goes well beyond statistics–his grit and desire, his knowledge of and instincts for the game, his clubhouse leadership, his willingness to sacrifice himself for the good of the team by advancing runners with ground-ball outs.

Grit and desire! Clubhouse leadership! Willingness to sacrifice himself for the good of the team!

Funny how the actual MLB teams don’t seem to have quite the same appreciation for that “value” as reporters do. Eckstein made just $850,000 in 2009 and $1 million last season, hitting .263 with a .652 OPS in 252 total games for the Padres. DiGiovanna says “it appeared several teams focused on Eckstein’s statistics, which are not overwhelming.” Imagine that.

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.