The Mets are making Ike Davis a platoon player

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Ike Davis turned his season around in a big way after a horrible first two months — he’s hitting .261/.339/.549 with 22 homers and 59 RBI in 284 at-bats since June 12 — but the Mets have decided to close out the season with him on the bench and Lucas Duda at first base against lefties.

The timing seems odd, though as much as Davis has struggled against southpaws this year, he can’t really complain. He’s batting .168/.209/.323 in 155 at-bats against lefties, compared to .251/.345/.505 versus righties.

The Mets say they’re making the decision because they want to give Lucas Duda some additional time at first base. Duda has been hitting better of late (11-for-36 with five extra-base hits in September), and he’s now proven conclusively that he’s not an outfielder. It’s hard to see how he’s going to fit into the Mets’ plans going forward unless they truly want to make Davis a platoon players, which seems unlikely. He’d make a lot more sense over in the American League, and while he wouldn’t net a big return, he might bring the Mets some relief help this winter. This little showcase may be geared towards increasing his value.

As for Davis, well, he could use every at-bat against left-handers that he can get. Missing out on 20 or so over the final couple of weeks probably won’t make that much of a difference, but as big of a piece of the Mets’ future that he is, it’s rather strange that the team would reduce his role so close to the end of the year.

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.