Rich Hill came back strong from last year’s Tommy John elbow surgery, reclaiming a spot in the Red Sox’s bullpen and throwing 14 innings with a 2.63 ERA, but now the left-hander will miss at least a month with a strained flexor muscle in that same elbow.
Joe McDonald of ESPN Boston says that actually qualifies as positive news, because the Red Sox sent Hill to be examined by Dr. James Andrews and feared he might have another torn ligament that would require surgery.
To replace Hill on the roster the Red Sox recalled Mark Melancon from Triple-A, where he recovered from an absolutely brutal first two weeks in Boston to get back on track as a potential late-inning reliever.
Melancon earned his trip down to Pawtucket by going 0-2 with a 49.50 ERA in four appearances to begin the season, allowing 11 runs in two innings. And then he dominated at Triple-A, throwing 22 innings with a 0.82 ERA and 27/3 K/BB ratio to look like the shutdown reliever the Red Sox traded Jed Lowrie to the Astros to get this offseason.
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.