Are you skeptical of Albert Pujols’ fast return?

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Despite the fact that blogging lends itself to insta-analysis couched in sharp opinions, I think the best analysis of the most difficult topics raises more questions than it does provide easy answers.   That’s the case with Jeff Passan’s piece about Albert Pujols’ quick return to action after breaking a bone in his arm.

Which, though he and I usually disagree fairly sharply when the issue of PEDs come up, is a thoughtful take, particularly at the end where he asks himself if he’s being naive in not buying what some folks on the Internet are selling about what may have fueled Pujols’ quick return.  And he offers this apt bit of insight:

Nearly every team tunes into MLB Network before a game, and the peanut galleries sitting on clubhouse couches deal in snark. I don’t know where it was or who it was, but I guarantee that when the news about Pujols’ return flashed across the screen, another player did one of those fake coughs to muffle the letters “HGH.” He is part of the problem.

I haven’t seen mainstream writers or bloggers accusing Pujols of anything. I have seen a few comments on blogs and tweets making those sorts of insinuations. And I have no doubt that Passan is right about some players questioning it too, if only in jest.

But even if there isn’t a critical mass of people looking askance at Pujols’ quick return, I find it rather depressing that we’re at a point where anyone thinks that is the most likely answer.

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.