Mike Quade calls out Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney after blowout loss

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Ryan Dempster lasted just three innings and allowed six runs in yesterday’s 9-1 loss to the Phillies, but afterward manager Mike Quade chose to call out the young middle infield duo of 21-year-old Starlin Castro and 25-year-old rookie Darwin Barney.

Castro lost a pop up in the sun during the first inning and even though Dempster allowed just two of his six runs in the opening frame Quade used that play as a launching point for what are clearly numerous complaints about the Cubs’ only All-Star and his double-play partner.

Here’s what the manager told Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago:

I needed to talk to kids in the middle of the diamond about that. We set a bad tone. [They] are communicating all the way. But I look back at this whole game and look at that play. The sun’s been in the same spot for however long Wrigley Field’s been here. Those are the kind of mistakes … there are some you accept. Others have to be taken care of.

Those are two talented kids in the middle of the diamond. We make enough mistakes. But it’s so important for those guys to play well in the middle. Everything goes through them, so if we’re going to be better at pitching, we have to be better in the middle.

After the game Barney took the criticisms in stride, saying: “I agree with him 100 percent.”

Still, with the Cubs leading the majors in errors and veteran first baseman Carlos Pena also committing an error in the same game it seems odd for Quade to repeatedly hammer on his 21-year-old shortstop. He’s been calling out Castro for various things all season and deserved or not publicly criticizing one of the few productive, promising players on a team that’s on pace for 98 losses seems misguided at some point.

Of course, if the Cubs don’t turn things around down the stretch Quade might not be back in 2012 and his relationship with Castro will be a non-issue.

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.

Yadier Molina will not enter contract negotiations during the 2017 season

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Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina is still open to extension talks during the last week of spring training. Once Opening Day rolls around, however, Molina has preemptively nixed any contract negotiations until the end of the 2017 season, when he’s scheduled to hit free agency.

Molina wants to stay with the Cardinals, or so he’s telling reporters, but he’s also “not afraid” to test the free agent market this fall should a deal fail to materialize. Via Goold:

I would love to stay, but at the same time I’m not afraid to go to free agency. I’ve still got many years in the tank. Believe me. I feel great. I feel like a 20-year-old kid. I’m not afraid to go to free agency.

The 34-year-old backstop is entering his final year under contract, though Goold points out that he has a $15 million option for 2018 that he can choose to decline in the event that it’s exercised by the team. He’s reportedly searching for a figure closer to those made by other top catchers like Buster Posey and Russell Martin.

The 2017 season will mark Molina’s 14th year in the Cardinals’ organization, building on a career that has spanned seven All-Star campaigns, nine postseason runs and two World Series championships in St. Louis. He batted .307/.360/.427 with eight home runs and a .787 OPS for the club in 2016.