Don Mattingly was pretty close to being fired in late May

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When the Dodgers hit their nadir in late May, people thought it was only a matter of time before Don Mattingly would be fired. The Dodgers poo-pooed that talk, saying that such speculation was unfounded and that Mattingly was safe and secure.  He is secure now thanks to the Dodgers going on an absolute tear over the past two months, but it turns out that, yeah, he was almost chucked aside.

Here’s Bill Plunkett reporting:

Dodgers mgr Don Mattingly might have been a lot closer to being fired than anyone realized at the time. Mattingly said today that Dodgers CEO/president Stan Kasten came to him “around” the time of the Dodgers’ series in Milwaukee in late May — when speculation about Mattingly’s job security was at its height.  “Stan said, ‘I don’t want to do something but if things keep going like this I’m going to have to,'” Mattingly said today. “I understand. You can’t just let things keep going. Sometimes you need to change the voice.”

Lesson 1: even front offices realize that even if managers aren’t making all the difference one way or the other that you sometimes change the manager simply because people expect changes to be made. Lesson 2: never believe what front office people say about a manager’s security.

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.