Red Sox send Daniel Bard to Triple-A

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Daniel Bard’s move from the bullpen to the rotation has been anything but smooth, as the formerly dominant reliever posted a 5.30 ERA with more walks (36) than strikeouts (34) through 10 starts while showing significantly diminished velocity.

Bard failed to make it out of the second inning Sunday against the Blue Jays, walking six of the 13 batters he faced while allowing five runs, and manager Bobby Valentine hinted afterward that a change would be coming. And sure enough Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports that the Red Sox have sent Bard to Triple-A.

Presumably by sending Bard to the minors instead of moving him back to the bullpen the Red Sox are still planning to go forward with him as a starter. Or maybe they just think he’s so screwed up right now that he needs some Triple-A time even if he’s bullpen bound.

In 193 career relief appearances Bard has a 2.87 ERA, .190 opponents’ batting average, and 213 strikeouts in 198 innings, so realizing he’s not cut out to start and making him a setup man again is hardly disastrous for the Red Sox. Assuming, of course, that spending the past two months struggling as a starter hasn’t had some sort of permanent impact on the 26-year-old’s raw stuff and/or confidence.

And now there’s a spot in the rotation for Daisuke Matsuzaka, who threw 5.1 innings of one-run ball in his last minor-league rehab start over the weekend and is seemingly close to returning from Tommy John surgery.

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.