Former top prospect Jerome Williams returns to majors with Angels

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Jerome Williams, who was last seen going 0-5 with a 7.20 ERA in six starts with the Nationals in 2007, is back in the majors after being promoted by the Angels on Wednesday.

Williams, a native of Hawaii, debuted with the Giants in 2003, finishing 7-5 with a 3.30 ERA in 21 starts as a rookie.  Along with Jesse Foppert and Kurt Ainsworth, he was part of a trio of Giants right-handers all ranked among the game’s top pitching prospects in the early part of the decade.

Unfortunately, none of those three went on to have substantial careers, while Francisco Liriano and Joe Nathan, who were dealt to the Twins for A.J. Pierzynski, turned into big-time successes.

Unlike Foppert and Ainsworth, Williams didn’t deal with any major arm problems.  He just lost his best stuff early on, and while he possesses a perfectly respectable career record of 23-29 with a 4.25 ERA (from back when a 4.25 ERA was actually above average), he wasn’t viewed as having any upside because of his lack of a consistent low-90s fastball or a strikeout breaking ball.  It also certainly didn’t help matters that he wasn’t too concerned about conditioning; he probably weighed over 250 pounds by the time he was let go by the Nats in 2007.

Williams is getting the call now after going 7-2 with a 3.91 ERA and a 60/15 K/BB ratio in 73 2/3 innings for Triple-A Salt Lake.  That he gave up 10 homers in 10 starts and one relief appearance doesn’t bode well, but that is a very tough environment for pitchers.  At best, maybe he’ll hold his own and prove to be a decent middle reliever for the Angels.  It doesn’t seem likely that he could succeed as a starter in the AL.

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.