Mets closer Frank Francisco on the Yankees: “I can’t wait to face those chickens”

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I’m not sure what could possibly compel a struggling second-rate closer with a 5.14 ERA to talk trash publicly against the Yankees, but Mets right-hander Frank Francisco took the media bait and did just that.

With this weekend’s Subway Series starting at Citi Field tonight, Francisco was asked for his thoughts about facing the Yankees and told Mike Puma of the New York Post:

I can’t wait to face those chickens. I want to strike out the side against them. I’ve done it before.

And then according to Puma he perhaps had a brief moment of self-awareness and said: “I think I’ve said too much already.”

Francisco spent the first seven years of his career in the American League before signing a two-year, $12 million deal with the Mets as a free agent this offseason, so he’s indeed faced “those chickens” plenty before. And he’s pitched pretty damn well too, posting a 3.29 ERA, .229 opponents’ batting average, and 24/10 K/BB ratio in 27 career appearances versus the Yankees.

Puma even looked back at the game logs and found that, sure enough, Francisco struck out the side against the Yankees on May 21, 2004, whiffing Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Jason Giambi in order. So, you know, that totally gives him the upper hand this weekend. Or something.

As you’d expect none of Francisco’s teammates were dumb enough to take the same bait, especially after the Yankees swept the Mets at Yankee Stadium just two weeks ago.

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.