Mike Piazza is probably gonna get boned in the Hall of Fame voting this year

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Bill Shaikin has a column up today in which one of Roger Clemens’ lawyers argues for Clemens’ induction to the Hall of Fame. Shocker, I know. But apart from him, this passage piques my interest:

Clemens is one of the headline attractions in what could be the most divisive election in Hall of Fame history. The first-time candidates include Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mike Piazza and Sammy Sosa, each of whom has been linked to performance-enhancing substances.

Clemens, Bonds and Sosa’s PED resumes are pretty well-known, but Piazza has not been publicly cast into their league. The relevant data points:

  • He admitted in 2002 to using androstenedione early in his career, but andro was not banned in baseball until 2004;
  • Murray Chass has gone on an unhinged one-man crusade (see here, here, here and here), saying that since he saw that Piazza had acne on his back, he had to be a ‘roider.

That’s it. That’s the alpha and omega of Piazza being “linked” to PEDs.

I don’t know if Piazza did anything besides andro. Maybe he did. Lots of star players of his generation did. Maybe that autobiography of his that comes out next February will say so. Maybe someone with actual first-hand knowledge of it will lay the evidence out for us.

But as Hall of Fame voters sit here today, all they have is legal andro use and Murray Chass’ back acne, which has been discredited by dermatologists as any sort of dispositive evidence. I have this feeling that alone is going to be enough for a huge number of Hall of Fame voters to withhold their vote for Piazza, despite him being ridiculously, over-the-top qualified for first ballot induction.

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.