UPDATE: Good news for the Rangers, as Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest reports that Hamilton is in the lineup as the designated hitter for tonight’s game.
9:45 AM ET: Josh Hamilton left last night’s game against the Twins with lower back spasms. He tweaked his back in the top of the fifth inning after he made an error while trying to track down a fly ball near the warning track in left field. Leonys Martin then pinch-hit for him in the bottom-half of the inning.
Hamilton told MLB.com’s Christian Corona after the game that he had “never felt anything like it before,” but that he had already noticed some improvement. While he felt confident the back issue wouldn’t force him to miss next week’s All-Star Game, his status for Saturday isn’t yet known.
“I’ll know when I wake up tomorrow morning,” Hamilton said. “It still hurts. It’s not as bad. After I iced it, it actually felt worse, but then it thaws out and it feels better. It’s a good sign.”
Hamilton, the leading vote-getter for the All-Star Game, is batting just .222 with five homers and a 37/14 K/BB ratio in 30 games dating back to the start of June. However, thanks to his absurdly hot start, he still leads the American League in RBI, OPS and slugging percentage.
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.