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Indians grant Daisuke Matsuzaka his release 08.20.13 at 12:25 pm ET
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The Indians granted pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka his release Tuesday, ending a stint with the organization in which he spent the entire season at Triple-A.

In 19 games for Triple-A Columbus, Matsuzaka had a 3.92 ERA with 39 walks and 95 strikeouts over 103 innings.

Now 32, Matsuzaka is in his seventh season playing professionally in North America after the Red Sox won the rights to negotiate with him thanks to a $51.1 1 million posting fee. The Sox then inked Matsuzaka to a six-year, $52 million deal, though he never emerged as the top-of-the-rotation starter he was projected to be in the major leagues. The Sox let him walk following the expiration of his contract, with Matsuzaka signing with Cleveland in February.

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It appears Daisuke Matsuzaka will begin season in minor leagues 03.18.13 at 6:02 pm ET
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Daisuke Matsuzaka likely will have to continue his comeback in the minors. (AP)

Daisuke Matsuzaka’s career hit another bump in the road Monday.

The former Red Sox pitcher was told by former Red Sox manager Terry Francona that he would not be making the Indians’ major league team. The Indians manager also informed veteran Matt Capps he also wouldn’t be breaking camp with the big league team.

Both Matsuzaka and Capps were with the Indians on minor league deals.

“Just didn’t want to create any unrealistic expectations, thought it was respectful to tell them,” Francona told reporters.

Matsuzaka only pitched eight innings in spring training, totaling a 2.25 ERA while allowing 10 hits. He was recently battling leg cramps.

There is a strong possibility the right-hander will remain in the Cleveland organization, possibly pitching for Triple-A Columbus.

“Having Tito here is big,” Matsuzaka told reporters through translator Jeff Cutler. “In speaking with Tito and [Cleveland general manager] Chris [Antonetti] this morning, they told me that they want me on this club and they see me on this club. Having heard that directly from them, definitely made me feel comfortable staying here.”

Scott Kazmir, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber are contending for the Indians’ fifth starter spot.

If Matsuzaka had made the major league roster, the 32-year-old would have made $1.5 million with the chance to bump that up to $4 million with incentives.

“This is not the end,” he told reporters. “This is definitely not the end.”

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Reports: Daisuke Matsuzaka signs minor league deal with Indians 02.10.13 at 2:21 pm ET
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Daisuke Matsuzaka agreed to a minor league deal with the Indians. (AP)

According to multiple reports (first from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com), former Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka agreed to a minor league contract with the Indians. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that the right-hander will earn a base salary of $1.5 million if he makes the big league team, while Heyman reports that Matsuzaka can make as much as $4 million based on various contract incentives.

Matsuzaka, a free-agent this winter for the first time in his career after concluding a six-year, $52 million deal with the Red Sox, struggled in 2012 as he returned from Tommy John surgery in June. He went 1-7 with an 8.28 ERA in 11 starts that spanned just 45 2/3 innings, with his ERA representing the highest ever by a Red Sox starter who made at least 10 starts in a season. Still, at times, he showed an ability to get swings and misses and his control was better than had been at any point since his rookie year of 2007, as he punched out 8.1 batters per nine innings (his best rate since 2009) while walking 3.9 per nine. In six big league seasons, the right-hander went 50-37 with a 4.52 ERA in 117 games.

With the Indians, Matsuzaka will be reunited with his former manager with the Red Sox, Terry Francona.

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It’s official: Red Sox add Shane Victorino, give him Daisuke Matsuzaka’s number 12.13.12 at 12:16 pm ET
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The Red Sox made the signing of Shane Victorino to a three-year, $39 million deal official on Thursday, introducing the 32-year-old at a Fenway Park press conference. Victorino will be given the No. 18 — formerly worn by Johnny Damon and Daisuke Matsuzaka.

A few other notable highlights from the press release (the full text of which is below):

  • Victorino is the only big leaguer to reach double digits in doubles, triples, homers and steals at least three times since 2009.
  • He’s one of nine players with four seasons of 30-plus steals since 2007.
  • His .996 career fielding percentage is the best of any active outfielder.
  • He won the Branch Rickey award for philanthropic activity that personifies “service above self.”

Here’s the press release:

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Hot Stove: Daisuke Matsuzaka interested in pitching for Padres; Bob McClure offered job 11.25.12 at 7:59 am ET
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Daisuke Matsuzaka

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Daisuke Matsuzaka has an interest in pitching in San Diego with the Padres. The 32-year-old Matsuzaka, who is a free agent, is coming off a 2012 season with the Red Sox in which he returned from Tommy John surgery to a 1-7 mark with an 8.28 ERA in 11 starts.

The report states that Matsuzaka has told members of the Japanese media that he would welcome the opportunity to restart his career in the pitcher-friendly Petco Park, where he performed during the first World Baseball Classic. Evidently, the righty pitcher said money wouldn’t hold up a deal.

Matsuzaka’s 8.28 ERA in 2012 was the highest ever by a Red Sox pitcher who made at least 10 starts. On the final day of the season, he expressed disappointment in the overall shape of his six year career in Boston, during which he was paid $52 million (after the Sox secured the rights to negotiate with him for a $51.11 million posting fee in November 2006).

“I didn’t expect the six years to end the way it did end. It was really hard on me mentally for a while now,” Matsuzaka said following the last start of the year. “But there were some great memories –– the first year winning the World Series was great. But I wasn’t able to perform to my expectations after the first two years, so I’m really disappointed and I’m really apologetic that I wasn’t able to perform to my expectations.”

Though he struggled in his return from Tommy John surgery in 2012, Matsuzaka had his best strikeout rate (8.1 per nine innings) since 2009 and his lowest walk rate (3.9 per nine innings) since 2007.

Also in the piece is news that the Padres have offered their vacant bullpen coach position to Bob McClure. McClure, who served as the Red Sox’ pitching coach in 2012, was let go by the Sox in midseason, having not seen eye-to-eye with then-manager Bobby Valentine. McClure worked in the Rockies organization at the same time current Padres general manager Josh Byrnes was Colorado’s general manager.

To read the entire report, click here.

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Scout that helped lead Daisuke Matsuzaka to Red Sox reflects on pitcher’s career in Boston 10.03.12 at 9:45 am ET
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Daisuke Matsuzaka

NEW YORK — Daisuke Matsuzaka‘s entrance was a firestorm. Gyro-ball. Six pitches. Massive media following. Teammates and coaches taking classes to learn Japanese.

His likely exit, well, that’s another story.

Matsuzaka most likely will be pitching his final game in a Red Sox uniform Wednesday night, completing a six-year career that started with a wave of historic fanfare. But now, thanks to injuries and lack of production, the pitcher’s perceived swan song couldn’t be any more anticlimatic. (Unless, of course, you’re the Orioles and need a Sox win to stay alive in the division race.)

“The whole thing has gone so quick, I think,” Red Sox Pacific Rim scouting coordinator Jon Deeble said by phone early Wednesday morning. “It sort of snuck up on us.”

While Deeble is halfway across the world, Matsuzaka’s start against the Yankees does signify a defining moment for the Sox scout. He was, after all, one of the chief components in leading the righty to the Red Sox, having followed Matsuzaka’s career from his early high school days.

And while a six-year stint with the Red Sox hasn’t lived up to expectations — Matsuzaka has gone 50-36 with a 4.47 ERA in 116 appearances — the pitcher always will stand out in Deeble’s mind.

Along with former international scouting director Craig Shipley, it was Deeble who helped lead the Red Sox to the point where they could out-bid the rest of baseball for Matsuzaka via a six-year deal worth $103 million (including a $51,111,111 posting fee.).

“I saw him pitch a lot for Japan. I saw him pitch in high school. So there was a long history,” the longtime scout said. “He did log a lot of innings, but he was the star of Japanese baseball for a long time.

“I thought he was one of the better pitchers in the world, internationally,” said Deeble, who also helped deliver Junichi Tazawa to the Red Sox. “He sat at 96-97 [mph] at the Athens Olympics. The good hitters, I would ask them the question, ‘What’s the stuff like?’ We had guys coming back and saying, ‘This guy is unhittable.’ ”

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Wednesday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Daisuke Matsuzaka vs. Hiroki Kuroda at 8:47 am ET
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Daisuke Matsuzaka

The Red Sox have one last chance to play spoilers when they face the Yankees in the regular-season finale in the Bronx. If the Orioles beat the Rays and the Sox beat the Yankees, Baltimore and New York would have a one-game playoff for first place in the AL East.

Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-6, 7.68 ERA) will take the ball for the last-place Red Sox. This will be Matsuzaka’s first start against the Yankees this season. His shortened season after his return from injury has not been stellar. Matsuzaka’s only win came on Aug. 27 against the Royals. He looked sharp, going seven innings, striking out six and allowing no runs in leading the Sox to a 5-1 victory. This looked like the pitcher Sox fans adored during his 18-win season in 2008.

Matsuzaka made his last start on Sept. 19 against the Rays and was horrendous. He went three innings and allowed five earned runs on nine hits. The Rays pounded the Sox, 13-3. Matsuzaka has not gone more than 5 1/3 innings during September. He has allowed 20 earned runs in 13 1/3 innings during starts in September.

Yankees hitters have done particularly well against Matsuzaka. Shortstop Derek Jeter has hit two home runs off the righty in 24 plate appearances. Raul Ibanez, the hero of Tuesday’s comeback win, has four RBIs in 19 plate appearances vs. Matsuzaka.

Hiroki Kuroda (15-11, 3.34 ERA) has enjoyed moderate success after moving to the AL. Kuroda played four seasons with the Dodgers, going 41-46 with a 3.45 ERA, before signing with New York last offseason. Kuroda has started against the Sox four times this season but only received one decision, a 4-1 win on Aug. 19. His worst outing against the Sox came July 6 when he went 5 1/3 innings and allowed six runs on 10 hits.

Of the current Sox, Kuroda has faced outfielder (and former National Leaguer) Cody Ross the most. Ross has three doubles, a home run and five strikeouts against the Yankees starter.

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