Yesterday I mocked the idea that the Yankees may ask their power-hitting first baseman to eschew trying to hit the ball to Yankee Stadium’s short porch in right field like God and Nature intended and, instead, try to square around to bunt or to slap it the other way when batting left-handed so as to beat the defensive over-shift.
My mocking was based somewhat on the notion that Mark Teixeira himself said that he never wanted to do that and, at least until recently, so too did Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long. But apparently everyone is changing their tune about that. From ESPN New York, here’s what Teixeira said last night:
“I’ve been so against it my entire career, but I might lay down a few bunts. If I can beat the shift that way, that’s important … I’m not going to complain about hitting 39 home runs, but I’d love to bring my [.248] average up, and it’s very simple, it’s left-handed singles.”
Eh. Fine, if he can actually handle the bat well enough to bunt it to the left side, go ahead and try it. At least to keep ’em honest. But I’m struggling to think of a power hitter who tried such a thing who had any success doing it at all. And if he can’t pull it off, the shift is just gonna get into his head more.
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.