Rays quick to demote Alex Cobb, Juan Miranda

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While the first-round of spring cuts is usually reserved for guys with no major league experience, the Rays demoted some bigger names Monday, sending down pitchers Alex Cobb, Alex Torres and Chris Archer, as well as first baseman Juan Miranda.

The 24-year-old Cobb went 3-2 with a 3.42 ERA in nine starts for the Rays last season and would have broken camp as a fourth or fifth starter for a bunch of major league teams this spring. Unfortunately for him, though, the Rays traded none of their six starters over the winter, leaving him seventh on the depth chart, and with either Wade Davis or Jeff Niemann going to the pen, there was no role for him in relief either. He’s getting sent down now so he can continue to stretch out as a starter at minor league camp.

Torres and Archer also rank among the Rays’ top prospects. Torres was 9-7 with a 3.08 ERA in Triple-A last season and had a 3.38 ERA in eight innings for the big-league club. Archer, who came over from the Cubs in the Matt Garza deal, was 8-7 with a 4.42 ERA in Double-A. All three pitchers will be in the rotation at Durham to begin the year.

Miranda briefly topped the Rays’ depth chart at first base before Carlos Pena was brought back over the winter. He began last season as Arizona’s first baseman and hit .213/.315/.402 in 174 at-bats. He was 0-for-9 this spring.

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.