Matsuzaka: 'Im ready to make the step up'

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Matsuzaka: 'Im ready to make the step up'

PAWTUCKET, RI After his third and latest rehab start Wednesday night, right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka said he feels good enough that he could be activated from the disabled list.Matsuzaka went 5 23 innings against ScrantonWilkes-Barre, giving up five runs (four earned) on five hits and two walks with five strikeouts, throwing 97 pitches, 65 strikes. He was also charged with an error. Matsuzaka took the loss, dropping to 0-1 on this rehab assignment (0-3 overall with Pawtucket) with a 3.68 ERA, as the PawSox lost, 5-1 at McCoy Stadium in the first game of a double-header.After my previous start I felt that I definitely needed to throw in the minors again, have another rehab start, Matsuzaka said after his outing. But today I felt a lot better, and I think the results werent what I wanted, but I felt a lot better. I threw a lot better, and I threw about 100 pitches. My pitch count went up, and I feel like Im ready to make the step up.The Yankees scored all their runs off him in the fifth inning, sending 10 batters to the plate. Matsuzaka threw 38 pitches in the inning, allowing the first seven batters to reach base -- including one on his own throwing error -- before he could record an out. It was an adjustment he made in that inning, he said, that caused his difficulties.Overall I think I threw well today, he said. But after the fourth inning, I saw my pitch count, I saw it was low and cant exactly say what I changed but I changed something. And that might have had an effect on what happened. But if I didnt make that error, it wouldnt have been as bad as it was.It was a small mechanical adjustment I made, because I felt so good, and the results followed because of that. But once I got up there everything seemed to fall apart and I really regret doing that. And its going to be the last time I make such an adjustment during a game.The results werent great, obviously. Physically I felt the best Ive felt in a while, and again Ive said this before, but if it werent for the error then it wouldnt have been as bad. But my fastball felt really good and there werent any hard hits on it. So thats a positive to take away from it. So its just about how I use my pitches is whats going to be something I need to rethink. The results were poor but I dont feel as bad as the results.PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler supported Matsuzakas assertion that he pitched better than his line showed.I think thats fair to say, Beyeler said. He had one bad inning. But overall he did a nice job. He commanded well.Matsuzaka has been on the DL since July 3. It is his second stint on the DL this season after beginning the year there following Tommy John surgery in June 2011. He has made just five starts, spanning 23 innings, for the Red Sox this season, going 0-3 with a 6.65 ERA. In all, he has made 12 rehab starts this season between the two stints, going 0-4 with a 3.76 ERA.He began his current 30-day rehab assignment on Aug. 5 and would not have to be activated until Sept. 4.

Mitch Moreland fancies himself an ideal fit with Red Sox

Mitch Moreland fancies himself an ideal fit with Red Sox

Mitch Moreland put up mediocre numbers and won a Gold Glove in a walk year. For his efforts, he received a one-year, $5.5 million contract on the open market. 

That’s not a lot. Maybe his .233 average stood out to teams more than his 22 homers, but either way it’s somewhat surprising that a one-year deal on low money is the best he could do given the fact that his career average was .258 prior to last year and he’d hit .275 or higher in two of his previous four seasons. 

The contract might not be a major score for Moreland, but he said choosing Boston was. 

“I had a couple options, but really just the whole fact that it’s place that I really wanted to play,” he said of Boston. “Getting an opportunity to come here and be a part of a winning environment, being part of a winning environment and having a chance to go out and play for a championship is huge to me, personally, and this is a great option. 

“What they were able to do last year, you know you were in for a fight when you were playing these guys. It was a gritty group of guys that had a ton of talent. I like to think of myself as that type player, as a gritty type player and hopefully I felt like I could fit in here and move forward and try to help out and make that goal happen of winning a championship. 

“That’s the main goal as far as playing this game for me. I feel like we’ve got a great opportunity here, and that was before the [Chris] Sale news broke, too, you know? So seeing that also, it just shows you that we’re in it. We’re in it and trying to go all out to make that happen. I’m happy to be a part of it.” 

It doesn’t hurt that his batting average is higher at Fenway Park than it is in any other stadium in which he’s had at least 30 at-bats. Moreland has hit .341/.378/.683 with four homers and eight RBI in 41 career at-bats at Fenway. Asked to explain his success in Boston, he noted that “comfortable” was the only word that came to mind. 

So what is the Red Sox’ plan for the former Rangers first baseman? To play him at first against righties and let Hanley Ramirez DH, John Farrell said. 

Farrell did also point to Moreland’s recent work against lefties. Last season was one of two in his career (the other being 2013) in which Moreland had a better average against lefties than against righties. Moreland hit .277/.320/.479 against southpaws last season, with .221/.293/.407 marks against righties.

“Against right-handed starters, Mitch will be the first baseman,” Farrell said. “That gives us the flexibility to DH Hanley in that spot. One thing I also mentioned to Mitch is we’re certainly open to his at-bats growing in number against left-handers, last year was his best year against left-handers in his big league career.

"With Mitch, getting everyday at-bats against right-handed starters at first base and Hanley moving to the DH slot, that alignment, we also have the ability against quality left-handers, where Hanley would go back to first base and then we’ve got the ability to rotate some guys through the DH slot. 

Added Farrell: “His strengths as a player are many, but we feel this is a very good fit in a number of ways, and positionally first and foremost.” 

Red Sox make Mitch Moreland signing official

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Red Sox make Mitch Moreland signing official

The Red Sox officially announced the signing of first baseman Mitch Moreland Thursday. To make room for him on the 40-man roster, the team designated left-handed pitcher Williams Jerez for assignment. 

Moreland has played his entire career with the Rangers, winning a Gold Glove at first base last season. He hit .233/.298/.422 with 22 homers and 60 RBI for the Rangers last season before becoming a free agent. He has a career batting average of .254, with a career-high 23 homers in both the 2013 and 2015 seasons. 

A second-round pick of the Red Sox in the 2011 draft, Jerez started his professional career as an outfielder before being moved to pitcher.