Brewers to use closer-by-committee approach

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Brewers manager Ron Roenicke was hoping for some stability when he removed John Axford from the closer role early last week, but he hasn’t had any such luck. Francisco Rodriguez blew two save chances against the Phillies this week while allowing six runs on five hits and three walks over just 1 1/3 innings, so the Brewers are going back to the drawing board.

According to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Roenicke plans to use a closer-by-committee approach for the time being.

“We’re going to go with whatever we see in the game and who fits that slot,” said Roenicke. “Unfortunately, it’s come to that. I’d rather have a set bullpen. But we’re going to match up and see how we do that way.”

As for who may get the ball in a save situation, Roenicke told Adam McCalvy of MLB.com that everyone is under consideration, including veteran right-hander Livan Hernandez. Livo, who is in his 17th season in the big leagues, notched his first career save back on May 5 as a member of the Braves.

While seeing a crafty junkballer like Hernandez try to lock down some save chances would be pretty entertaining — and likely terrifying for Brewers fans — it might not be long before Axford gets his old gig back. He has tossed 5 1/3 scoreless innings since being removed from the closer role, including three strikeouts over two shutout frames in the Brewers’ extra-inning loss to the Phillies yesterday.

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.