Injured Josh Johnson is now a defacto coach for the Padres

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Josh Johnson is out for the season following a second Tommy John elbow surgery and never even got to throw a regular season pitch for the Padres, but now he’s keeping busy by coaching the other pitchers on San Diego’s staff.

Corey Brock of MLB.com explains:

“Really, the only thing I can do is help these guys out where I can,” Johnson said. “Since the team came back from that last road trip, I have watched pretty much every single bullpen [session]. I will do that again when they come back from this trip, too.”

The Padres have a pitching coach (Darren Balsley) and a bullpen coach (Willie Blair). And now they have Johnson, who has volunteered his services, his eyes and opinions to the team if they want it.

“I love it,” Balsley said. “This wasn’t anything he asked to do, either. Going back to Spring Training … JJ was the same way, watching other guys pitch in the bullpen. I think part of it is he really wants to be a part of this team. He was really looking forward to pitching here. He has been very supportive for the pitchers. I’ve given him free reign to help out where he sees fit.”

A one-year, $8 million contract makes Johnson the world’s highest-paid coach, but it’s still a cool story because, as Brock writes, he “could just as easily slip in for his rehab work before games and leave undetected, free to head home.” Instead he’s hanging out, helping young pitchers, and generally just being a good guy to have around. All of which is especially interesting because the Padres hold a $4 million team option on Johnson for 2015.

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.