Royals designate Yuniesky Betancourt for assignment

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Yuniesky Betancourt was exactly the player for the Royals that the team should have expected him to be. On Sunday, that finally got him bumped from the roster, as he was designated for assignment and replaced by Tony Abreu from Triple-A Omaha.

Betancourt started at third base today and went 0-for-4, leaving him with a .228/.256/.400 line, seven homers and 36 RBI in 215 at-bats for the season. While expectations were that he’d be a utilityman after agreeing to a one-year, $2 million contract over the winter, he started about 60 percent of the games of which he was on the active roster. He missed four weeks in May because of a sprained ankle.

Despite his struggles, he was actually the Royals’ best run producer this year, going strictly by RBI. He drove in a run every 5.97 at-bats, compared to one every 6.06 at-bats for Billy Butler. Jeff Francouer, in comparison, has one RBI every 12.58 at-bats.

Replacing Betancourt is the similarly hacktastic Abreu, who had a 69/14 K/BB ratio in 429 at-bats for Omaha. Some will suggest it means the Royals have given up on Johnny Giavotella after his disappointing 21-game stint earlier this season, but the Royals needed a backup infielder who could play short and Giavotella is pretty strictly a second baseman. The 28-year-old Abreu was hitting .322/.347/.492 in 429 at-bats for Omaha, while the 25-year-old Giavotella was at .332/.419/.498 in 313 at-bats.

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.