Buck Showalter took over a dreadful 32-73 team and managed them to a 34-23 record down the stretch last season, creating some optimism among Orioles fans for the first time in a long time.
So much for that.
This season the Orioles have the AL’s worst record at 42-63, which is a .400 winning percentage that ranks as the team’s second-worst during the past 10 years, and as Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun writes “the honeymoon with Showalter seems to be over now, with some fans routinely criticizing Showalter’s lineup and bullpen decisions.”
That’s what happens when raised expectations are met with the league’s worst record, but Showalter has now managed exactly one full season in Baltimore and his 76-86 record would be the team’s best since 2004. He’s not a miracle-worker, but for the Orioles a .469 winning percentage is pretty close and Connolly is full of praise while noting that Showalter has “had to count on guys who probably shouldn’t be in the majors” and “has been handcuffed by the lack of talent on the 25-man roster.”
Reading between the lines, that sure seems to suggest that Orioles fans should be reconsidering the length of their honeymoon with president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail.
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 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.