Joakim Soria open to being a setup man with the Yankees

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Joakim Soria recently became a free agent after the Royals declined his $8 million option for 2013. Coming back from Tommy John surgery, the thought is that he’ll look for a closer job on a one-year deal in hopes of re-establishing his value and testing the market again next offseason. But he’s keeping his options open.

Soria’s agent, Oscar Suarez, told Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York today that his client would be willing to pitch as a set-up man for the Yankees if he could learn from his idol Mariano Rivera.

“If the Yankees call, we will be all ears,” Soria’s agent, Oscar Suarez, said by phone Monday. “If there is a fit, Joakim would be elated to work with Mo. He would close everywhere except there.”

Suarez told Marchand that he has already heard from eight teams, all of them contenders, but Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has yet to inquire. It appears that Soria’s interest in working with Rivera is genuine and it would make for a pretty natural changing of the guard beyond 2013, but as we’ve seen with other free agents over the years, it never hurts to have the Yankees involved in the bidding.

Soria, 28, has a 2.40 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 160 saves over five seasons in the major leagues. His 181 ERA+ is fifth all-time among pitchers with at least 300 innings pitched. Rivera is first all-time with an ERA+ of 206.

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.