The “move the A’s to Portland” drum continues to beat

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Almost all the beating is coming from Lynn Lashbrook, president of Sports Management Worldwide and the primary backer for the aborted effort to move the Expos to Portland in 2003. But it is beating. Here’s a story about Lashbrook’s efforts and estimates regarding the cost and logistics of a ballpark. Here’s an interesting sidebar about how the A’s (or whoever) could theoretically play in the Hillsboro Hops’ minor league park temporarily while a stadium is built.

That’s all good — Lashbrook is doing a lot to answer the inevitable “how it might work” questions — but the biggest issue is still unaddressed: who pays for a ballpark and who owns the team.

The team ownership issue is key, because it’s highly unlikely that either the current owners of the A’s or Rays would commit to any sort of massive self-financed stadium project in a new city. And that’s before you take into account the fact that neither have expressed a desire to sell. But, say they do: someone has to buy the A’s or the Rays for some amount north of $500 million and south of a billion, and that same someone would have to pony up hundreds of millions for a stadium. All with no promise of the kind of TV money the Dodgers received after their $2 billion sale. Because Portland may want baseball, but they only have so many people to broadcast it to.

So it would take a sports-crazed billionaire, really. And yes, Portland has one. Maybe two. But neither have expressed much interest in getting into the baseball business. Maybe that changes — now would not be the best time for them to go public with their great interest in doing so — but until it does, baseball in Portland seems more like a pipe dream than a reality.

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.