Will Major League Baseball turn Hall of Fame weekend into PED-Fest?

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Buster Olney’s column today speculates about whether Major League Baseball will use next weekend’s Hall of Fame ceremonies in Cooperstown as a vehicle to promote its get-tough stance on Biogenesis:

The Hall of Fame ceremony in Cooperstown will be held next weekend, in a year in which no recent retirees will be inducted, and if Selig makes his announcement of suspensions before Friday, he will be guaranteed three days of almost uniformly positive response.

Olney — who to be fair, is one of the most rational and reasonable guys around when it comes to PEDs and the Hall of Fame — correctly observes that if Major League Baseball were to announce suspensions before next weekend that there would be three days worth of old timers nodding their heads and patting the league on the back for doing the right thing and suspending players. It’s way better to have Hank Aaron out front defending the league, the thinking goes, than Bud Selig, and it would provide a P.R. bump for the league.

I can see the logic there from MLB’s perspective, but I question whether the league is truly willing to risk that bank-shot going in so cleanly. I can just as easily imagine Biogenesis newsmaking at the time of the Hall of Fame inductions being a big P.R. black eye. Because for every quote from a star of yesteryear patting the league on the back, there will be just as many things written — bad things and good things — trying to combine an inductee-free Hall of Fame induction and the Biogenesis news into a narrative about how baseball has lost its way, is irrelevant, is tragic and on and on. People love to pile on baseball during its marquee events — mostly people not familiar with the day-to-day of the league — and this would give them a big fat target.

A source I spoke with a couple of weeks ago who is familiar with the Biogenesis investigation suggested that Major League Baseball itself is wary of having the Hall of Fame events overshadowed by Biogenesis news. It’s possible that the league changes its mind on this. It’s possible that Selig gets on the freakin’ podium in front of the Hall of Fame and announces anti-PED justice. But I kinda doubt MLB wants to make that kind of news at that particular time. After all, it’s one thing for the story to be floating around like it is now but it’s another thing altogether for MLB to actively make a new news story regarding the suspensions just as things get moving in Cooperstown.

The league is historically awful at P.R. coordination when it comes to these things, but I don’t think it’s that bad.

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.