Every year people wonder if Barry Zito is ever going to be a good pitcher again. Not a lot of people. No, those crowds disappeared several years ago. The number of people still hoping for a Zito turnaround is roughly the same as the number of those Iraq War protesters who still show up on that one corner every Saturday for some reason like it never stopped being 2003.
But for those optimistic and hearty souls, there is news. Barry Zito has a new delivery:
Barry Zito made a slight change to his delivery this winter he hopes will help him rebound from an injury-plagued season.
During the offseason, he worked on bending his front leg to get lower to the ground and speed up the momentum the ball gains traveling to the plate.
That’s great. It’d be even greater if he hadn’t done this before. Like, say, in 2007, when he also said that the tweak in his delivery was to create more “momentum” in his fastball. Then in 2008 when he changed his arm slot. Then in 2010 when he changed his arm slot again. Then in 2011 when he did it again.
Hey, maybe this time he has figured it out. I just think it’s way more likely that “he changed his delivery” or “he altered his arm slot” is empty Barry Zito-ese designed to either give fans or himself some sort of hope that something different will happen this year. Finally.
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.