Ex-pitcher Adam Loewen makes it back to majors as outfielder

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Former Orioles first-round pick Adam Loewen is back in the majors three years and a couple of months after giving up on pitching due to a series of arm problems.  The Blue Jays called him up and will use him as a reserve outfielder for the rest of the season.

The 27-year-old Loewen has been with the Blue Jays since the Orioles released him following the 2008 season.  Baltimore hoped to re-sign him then — he was released because he was on the 40-man roster yet had no hope of contributing in the short term — but he picked a return to his native Canada.  He hit .236/.340/.355 with four homers for Single-A Dunedin in his first full season as an outfielder in 2009, .246/.351/.412 with 13 homers in Double-A in 2010 and .306/.377/.508 with 17 homers in Triple-A this year.

The big caveat there is that his Triple-A home games were in Las Vegas, a fabulous place for hitters.  He hit .328/.414/.559 with 10 homers at home, compared to .284/.339/.458 in the rest of the PCL’s mostly hitter friendly ballparks.  Also, he struck out 136 times in his 520 at-bats.

There is some hope for Loewen, though he doesn’t currently project as a major league regular.  If he takes another step forward next year like he has the past two, he has a chance of making it as a platoon outfielder.  The Jays will give him a few starts down the stretch to see if he’ll be worth keeping on the 40-man this winter.  That he is out of options complicates things; he’ll have to clear waivers if he can’t make the team out of spring training next year.

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.