MLB’s claim that A-Rod sent money to Bosch’s attorney to silence him looks really shaky

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On “60 Minutes” last Sunday Rob Manfred claimed that a large payment from Alex Rodriguez to Tony Bosch’s attorney — $49,901.51 — was intended as a payoff for Bosch’s silence. When asked point blank if he thought the payment was a bribe, Rob Manfred said he did.

But go read Steve Fishman’s latest at New York Magazine. He provides pretty compelling evidence that it was nothing of the sort. Rather, it was a misdirected payment intended for A-Rod’s lawyers. Indeed, A-Rod had just been billed that exact amount by his legal team. It was misdirected to Bosch’s attorney — with whom A-Rod had been dealing with previously — and when the mistake was discovered it was promptly returned. Despite this, MLB stands by its contention that it was a bribe.

At this point this is technically academic. The suspension has been leveled and the arbitrator didn’t cite that as evidence of A-Rod’s obstruction, suggesting he didn’t buy MLB’s claim either. But it certainly stands as evidence that MLB was willing to make every possible negative inference available to it regarding Rodriguez, even if the inference wasn’t plausible. And, of course, it was a pile of such inferences that motivated MLB to suspend A-Rod for 211 games in the first place.

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.