Brian Roberts not close to returning to Orioles three months after concussion

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Brian Roberts hasn’t played since a head-first slide into first base on May 16 left him with a concussion and even after three months on the sidelines his chances of returning this season remain unclear.

Roberts spoke yesterday to Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com, discussing his frustration with the injury, his desire to return and remain a big part of the Orioles’ plans, and the reaction he’s had to fan backlash regarding his extended absence.

I certainly want people to understand through the whole process that there’s nobody more frustrated than I am, there’s nobody that loves playing the game of baseball still more than I do. I know it’s been disappointing for our fans, for our players, for our organization, not only the season but my circumstance.

Unfortunately you cannot always control the perception that’s out there. All you can do is know that you are doing everything that you can. So for me, in this instance I’m doing everything I can to get back on the baseball field. If the perception out there, if there is one, that I’m not, or for some unknown reason people have feelings that I don’t want to play baseball, I’m sure that’s very hard and hurtful for someone who has as much pride as I feel like I do.

Justin Morneau went through a similar situation in Minnesota last season, as his missing the entire second half of the season led to criticism from a segment of the fan base that refused to understand the delicate and unpredictable nature of concussions. In addition to Roberts and Morneau, other players to miss months following concussions include Jason Bay last season and Morneau’s teammate, Denard Span, this year.

Span returned last week following a two-month absence, played horribly, and then revealed that he’s still dealing with post-concussion symptoms. In other words, the notion that Roberts is somehow extending his absence by not being tough enough or working hard enough to get back in the Orioles’ lineup is absurd.

It has nothing to do with hard work or how much a player wants to return. Brain injuries are a hell of a lot more complicated than any of that. Three months after his concussion Roberts continues to experience headaches, to the point that he had to cancel a recent charity fundraiser, and still hasn’t been cleared for full workouts.

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.