Bud Selig wants tougher PED penalties

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ESPN:

“I have been interested in stiffer penalties for some time,” Selig said. “We’ve made meaningful adjustments to our testing and it is time to make meaningful adjustments to our penalties.”

Selig said last season there were only five positive tests of the more than 5,000 that were conducted. The new penalties are intended to deter the small number of those who still don’t see the current penalties as harsh enough.

“I don’t know if we can ever get to zero; there will always be somebody out there,” Selig said. “For a very small percentage of people it hasn’t served for as much of a deterrent as I think it should.”

MLB’s more stringent drug punishments have been cited as one large reason why offense began to decline starting in 2010. The average Major League team averaged 4.61 runs per game in 2009, but it dropped to 4.38, 4.28, and 4.32 in the following three years. Home run rates from 2007-12 are at their lowest rates since the early 1990’s.

Selig’s wish for harsher penalties for positive drug tests is curious given that, as the ESPN article mentions, very few players are testing positive. At some point, you get diminishing returns cranking up the dial on suspension lengths and fine amounts. And it looks silly in comparison to the biggest of shrugs MLB gives to alcohol abuse — Philadelphia’s Delmon Young was suspended a mere seven games without pay when he was charged with third-degree assault and an aggravated harassment hate crime last year.

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.