We bid our farewell to Tiffany Simons

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A fair number of HBT Extra/Daily viewers watch those videos for reasons other than me and my nasally lisping of the day’s baseball stories.  Many watch because of the lovely and talented anchor, Tiffany Simons.

For those folks I have some sad news: today’s videos — the AL and NL playoff previews — were Tiffany’s swan song for NBC Sports.com.  Tiffany is leaving the peacock for Florida, which happens to be her native home.  It’s not our business to pry into such matters, but I can say that we at NBC are sad to see her go even if we are happy that good things await her there.

Personally, I am happy that after all of this time I finally, in the past couple of months, got to meet in person the one who has probably done more than anyone else to help me not be self-conscious and terrified in front of a camera. Her secret: getting me to gab about weird crap we read in magazines while waiting for the teleprompter to cue up. It’s impossible to be nervous talking about baseball stuff when you just got done laughing your ass off about romantic comedies, weird unsolved crimes, the beauty secrets of the stars and the like.

Thanks for everything, Tiffany. Good luck and good travels. And I’ll finally let you out of my basement.

Steven Matz to skip next spring training start with elbow issues

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Mets’ left-hander Steven Matz will miss his Grapefruit League appearance on Monday after experiencing soreness in his left elbow, according to a report by Mike Puma of the New York Post. Matz reportedly first felt discomfort in his elbow on Wednesday after pitching four innings against the Marlins, but a medical evaluation revealed no structural damage.

Still, it’s unsettling news for the 25-year-old, who is coming off of an injury-riddled 2016 season. Matz pitched to a 3.40 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 8.8 SO/9 during his sophomore campaign with the Mets, but his success was hampered by a bevy of shoulder and elbow issues that culminated in season-ending surgery to remove bone spurs from his left elbow.

Comments from Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson indicated that while the club doesn’t believe anything is significantly wrong with Matz’s elbow this time around, the setback could have an impact on his chances of cracking the Opening Day roster. Until he’s cleared to return to the mound, the club is expected to take a longer look at rotation candidates Robert Gsellman, Zack Wheeler and Seth Lugo.

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.