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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‘€™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.

‘€œJust 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.

‘€œHaving Tito here is big,’€ Matsuzaka told reporters through translator Jeff Cutler. ‘€œIn 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.

‘€œThis is not the end,’€ he told reporters. ‘€œThis 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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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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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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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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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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Wednesday’s Red Sox-Rays matchups: Daisuke Matsuzaka vs. Chris Archer 09.19.12 at 10:31 am ET
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It may be too late to make a difference for the season, but the Red Sox have won four of their last five games as they turn to Daisuke Matsuzaka to start Wednesday’€™s game against the Rays.

Last time out, Matsuzaka (1-5, 7.14 ERA) had one of his stronger outings this season. Although, when considering the fact that he gave up 11 runs in just five combined innings in his previous two starts, that is not saying much. Outside of a three-run third inning by the Blue Jays, Matsuzaka pitched well in his most recent start, finishing the outing with four earned runs over 5 1/3 innings pitched.

Despite his ballooning ERA, Matsuzaka has shown some positive signs this season, especially in what is usually his biggest area of concern: walks. Matsuzaka’€™s current mark of 4.0 walks per nine innings is a vast improvement upon recent seasons, especially from his mark of 5.5, and is bested only by his 3.5 he posted in his first MLB season. Meanwhile, Matsuzaka’€™s 8.3 strikeouts per nine innings this season is the best he’€™s had since his 18-win season in 2008.

Matsuzaka hasn’€™t faced the Rays since April 2008, a start that ended after just two innings when he gave up seven runs in the first two frames. His loss in that outing is part of a trend against the Rays, as Matsuzaka has gone 2-7 with a 5.83 ERA in 13 starts against Tampa Bay.

The current Rays lineup is batting a pedestrian .266 against Matsuzaka but has burned him with walks and power, posting a .442 on-base percentage and a .523 slugging percentage. In 148 plate appearances, the current Rays lineup actually has gotten on base more often via the walk (33) than from getting hits (29). Of those 29 hits, almost half have gone for extra bases (seven doubles and seven home runs).

The Rays, who are known for the young starters, are sending out the newest, youngest addition to their rotation to take the mound Wednesday night: 23-year-old Chris Archer. With just four appearances, including three starts, in two major league stints under his belt, Archer (0-3, 3.22 ERA) has yet to face any current member of the Red Sox and is still building his reputation as a major league pitcher.

Archer was last seen coming out of the bullpen during the Rays’€™ 14-inning marathon against the Orioles on Sept. 13, going 3 2/3 innings before surrendering the game-winning run. Archer’€™s most recent start came Sept. 8 against the Rangers and was his first start since being recalled at the beginning of the month. Against Texas, Archer pitched seven strong innings, giving up two runs while striking out seven. He did not get a decision in a 4-2 Rangers win.

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Friday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Daisuke Matsuzaka vs. Aaron Laffey 09.14.12 at 9:06 am ET
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Don’€™t worry if Friday’€™s pitching matchup between the Red Sox and Blue Jays seems like a repeat — it is. Less than a week after starting opposite each other in Boston, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Aaron Laffey will take to the mound as they open this weekend’s series in Toronto.

After a masterful first start off the disabled list, Mastuzaka (1-5, 7.20) took a step backward in his second start, lasting just 3 2/3 innings while giving up six runs. Last week against the Blue Jays in his third start since returning from injury, he took a giant leap backward. Matsuzaka recorded a scoreless first inning before imploding in the second, giving up five runs and recording one out (a sacrifice fly) before being replaced by Alfredo Aceves. The outing turned out to be as bad as the one in which he injured his neck against Oakland, except he recorded one more out and threw 42 pitches compared to 28 in that start. In comparison, Laffey pitched 4 2/3 innings opposite Matsuzaka and threw just 20 more pitches.

Despite his most recent outing, Matsuzaka has good numbers historically against the Blue Jays and pitched well against them earlier in the year. In his first start against the Jays on June 26, Matsuzaka lasted 5 2/3 innings and gave up one run in a 5-1 Sox win. In 14 career starts against Toronto, Matsuzaka is 7-2 with a 3.81 ERA.

Against the lineup he will see Friday, Matsuzaka has some strong individual matchups, as the Jays are batting a mere .206 against him with a .580 OPS. Adam Lind, who has faced Matsuzaka the most by far, has struggled against him, producing one of the few clean outs of the outing last Saturday. Against the lineup as a whole, Matsuzaka has largely maintained his control, walking five batters and hitting one in 104 plate appearances.

Unlike Matsuzaka, Laffey (3-5, 4.43 ERA) had a decent showing against the Red Sox in their most recent meeting. Laffey lasted only 4 2/3 innings but gave up two runs and was efficient, throwing 62 pitches in the start. A reliever for much of the season, Laffey hasn’€™t shown the ability to pitch deep into many games, throwing more than six innings in a start just once. The start was tied for Laffey’€™s shortest of the season but was also his first start back in the rotation after his second bullpen stint.

Before his most recent appearance against them, Laffey had been lights out in his two starts against the Red Sox this season. On June 26, his first start of the season after four relief appearances, Laffey went six scoreless innings in an eventual 5-1 loss. On July 20, Laffey had his best outing of the season, going seven shutout innings and earning the win in a 6-1 Jays victory.

The current Red Sox lineup has gotten on base as a decent .311 tick against Laffey, despite batting just .239 against him. Where Laffey has been particularly effective against the Red Sox is his ability to limit their power numbers. In 74 combined plate appearances, the Red Sox are slugging a collective .284 with just one extra base hit, a solo home run from Dustin Pedroia back in 2009.

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Saturday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Daisuke Matsuzaka vs. Aaron Laffey 09.08.12 at 8:51 am ET
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After being completely ineffective last week in his start against the Athletics, Daisuke Matsuzaka will take the mound again Saturday looking to return to the success he displayed in his first start after coming off of the DL.

Matsuzaka (1-4, 6.15 ERA) lasted just 3 2/3 innings while giving up six earned runs against Oakland, in what was his shortest start of 2012, save his injury-shortened outing that sent him to the DL. The start was indicative of all the issues that have plagued the 31-year-old over his six seasons with the Red Sox: throwing 97 pitches to record 11 outs, walking a season-high four batters and returning his ERA to the highest among the team’€™s starters who have made more than one start.

Saturday, though, Matsuzaka will face a Toronto lineup against whom he has been downright dominant. Throughout his career, Matsuzaka boasts a .173 batting average against and a .471 OPS against. He has given up just three extra base hits and four walks in 85 plate appearances. Historically, Matsuzaka’€™s numbers against the Blue Jays are tremendous, recording a 7-1 record and a 3.33 ERA while averaging just under 5 2/3 innings per start.

Matsuzaka’€™s most recent start against Toronto came on June 26, when he earned the win after giving up one run over 5 2/3 innings, throwing 100 pitches in the process. The start appeared to be Matsuzaka’€™s most promising since returning to the team from Tommy John surgery before he sustained a neck injury in his next start.

Taking the mound for the Blue Jays will be 27-year-old lefty Aaron Laffey, who in two starts against the Red Sox this season has yet to surrender a run. After a brief stint in the Blue Jays bullpen, Laffey returned to the starting rotation following a season-ending injury to J.A. Happ.

In his first stint as a starter for Toronto this season, Laffey was 3-5 with a 4.78 ERA over 11 starts before returning to the bullpen on Aug. 27. Laffey ended up making just two appearances out of the bullpen in that time, with his most recent appearance coming Sept. 2 against the Rays, when he finished the game with three scoreless innings in a 9-4 loss.

Against the current Red Sox lineup, Laffey has posted solid numbers, including a .235 batting average against. His most impressive stat, though, is his .294 slugging average against, giving up just one extra base hit, a solo home run to Dustin Pedroia. Outside of Pedroia and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who have OPS totals of 1.121 and .855, respectively, against Laffey, no Red Sox in Satuday’€™s lineup have hit higher than .231 against him.

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