Marlins’ attendance disappoints compared to expectations and recent new ballparks

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Moving into a state-of-the-art ballpark following an offseason of big spending was supposed to equal huge attendance numbers for the Marlins, but instead Miami ranks dead last in first-year attendance among the 11 new ballparks to open since 2001.

Miami has drawn 27,400 fans per game, which is a massive improvement over previous seasons at the old ballpark. However, it’s also far short of the new 37,442 capacity and about 200,000 fewer fans than any other first-year ballpark since 2001.

Team president David Samson, of course, downplayed the disappointment to Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post:

We said in the beginning that a honeymoon would be five innings. We knew that building a ballpark by itself is not the panacea. We wanted to have a great ballpark and a great team, and we made it 50 percent of the way.

That’s quite a bit different than before the season, when Samson told Capozzi:

With the team we are putting together, we expect there to be very few empty seats at this ballpark ever. We have always told ourselves build it small and sell it out, and that’s what we’re going to do.

For a team to improve from 28th to 18th in attendance while finishing in last place with fewer wins than the previous season is impressive, but obviously the Marlins expected bigger numbers along with more wins.

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.