Ian Desmond’s PED idea: make players play for 50 games without pay

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Interesting PED discussion involving Nationals players in this Amanda Comak story at the Washington Times. They’re talking about the increased or altered PED penalties, noting some of the inherent problems in the system and how to best address them. Ian Desmond — admitting at the outset that he’s just sort of riffing — has a novel idea:

Desmond, prefacing the idea as “unpolished,” described a scenario in which a player would lose 50 games worth of pay but be required to stay with his team and have the opportunity to play.

“It’s the manager’s discretion, if he thinks the player is performing, then he plays. If not, he’s on the bench, but he’s around,” Desmondexplained. “Your face is in front of the camera, you have to deal with your teammates, and if you don’t play up to your potential, then if you hit free agency, people are going to see a true evaluation of you.

Obviously problematic and likely unworkable. But his broader comments after that, and the comments of Drew Storen, do point out what seems to be something significant: there’s shame and ego and all sorts of things tied up in players’ decision to use PEDs. And that focusing so much on the severity of the penalty may not get at the problem the way people think. Guys who use think they’ll never get caught, so 50 games or even 100 games may not be enough.  Guys who take PEDs aren’t necessarily twirling their mustaches at the prospect of gaming the system, they’re insecure in their abilities and are looking at the easiest way to live up to the hype or to cash in or whatever. When thinking about how to solve the problem, those motivations should be considered.

I guess the biggest takeaway from this, and from other articles about the prospect of enhanced PED penalties is that the players are thinking about this stuff. And that, shockingly, they have better insight into the psychology of a cheating player than do baseball writers, WADA and the like.  And as such, it’s probably worth listening to them before mindlessly jacking up the penalties and banning people for life.

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.