Fernando Rodney, Dennis Eckersley are a perfect match

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One would be hard-pressed to find a pair of seasons more similar than these two:

4-2, 45 Sv, 5 ER, 9 R, 41 H, 2 HR, 73/4 K/BB in 73 1/3 IP
2-2, 46 Sv, 5 ER, 9 R, 41 H, 2 HR, 74/15 K/BB in 73 1/3 IP

The first is Dennis Eckersley’s record-setting 1990 campaign with the A’s. The second is Fernando Rodney’s 2012 with the Rays.

Even more amazing, both were 35 years old.

Of course, Eckersley and Rodney had wildly different careers leading up to their remarkably similar seasons. Eckersley was a top-notch starter for five years before alcohol problems contributed to an early decline. Seemingly on the verge of washing out of the league, he made the switch to relieving in 1987 and turned into a Hall of Famer. 1990 was his third conseuctive year as a top-flight closer.

Rodney was plucked off the scrap heap by the Rays last winter after amassing a 4.50 ERA and a 1.69 WHIP in his final year with the Angels. He did have one very successful year as a closer in 2009, going 37-for-38 in save opportunities for the Tigers, but even then he had a 4.40 ERA. He entered 2012 with a lifetime ERA of 4.29.

Where Rodney goes from here is anyone’s guess. But he need only get one out without allowing a run in the Rays’ last three games to finish with the lowest ERA, minimum 50 innings, of any pitcher in major league history.

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.