Indians closer Chris Perez is a mess right now

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I wrote yesterday afternoon about how the Indians were sticking with Chris Perez as closer despite his struggles over the past two months. And then last night I went to the Twins-Indians game at Target Field and watched as Cleveland manager Terry Francona brought Perez into a 6-1 game in the ninth inning to get him some work following a blown save earlier this week.

I turned to the person next to me and predicted “Perez is definitely going to make this very interesting.” I also tried to get them to give me 20-to-1 odds on the Twins winning the game despite being down five runs with three outs to go, but apparently not everyone will gamble on everything.

Anyway, sure enough Perez coughed up four runs on four hits, including a homer, before being yanked with one out left to get and the gap closed to 6-5. Joe Smith came in and closed out the win, but Perez saw his ERA balloon to 4.33 and he’s now allowed 17 runs in 20.1 innings since August 1. Cleveland looks headed to the playoffs, but it’s hard to imagine the Indians making a run unless Perez turns things around or Francona changes his mind about the ninth inning.

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.