Saltalamacchia: Matsuzaka 'battled'

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Saltalamacchia: Matsuzaka 'battled'

BOSTON Before the series finale against the Marlins, manager Bobby Valentine was asked what he would like to see from Daisuke Matsuzaka in his third start since returning from Tommy John surgery.Id like him to participate in a winning performance, Valentine said. That would be a good thing. Hes feeling better. Id like him to get through that first inning clean, also. Both of those things would be nice to see.Valentine got neither from Matsuzaka. Despite that, the Red Sox did manage a 6-5 win and a three-game sweep of the Marlins.In a first inning that took 30 minutes, Matsuzaka faced seven batters, with three scoring, as he allowed three hits and a walk, with three stolen bases and a strikeout. He threw 33 pitches, 19 for strikes, a less-than-ideal 58 percent strike rate.Matsuzaka gave up a lead-off single to Jose Reyes before getting Hanley Ramirez to ground out to Mike Aviles at shortstop. He then walked Giancarlo Stanton, who stole second with Logan Morrison batting. Matsuzaka struck out Morrison, looking at 93-mph fastball, but with two outs, he allowed a two-run single to Greg Dobbs, scoring Reyes and Stanton. Dobbs stole second then scored on Omar Infantes single to center. With Scott Cousins batting, Dobbs stole second. Matsuzaka got Cousins to fly out to Ryan Kalish to end the inning.In typically confounding Matsuzaka fashion, the right-hander rebounded. Including Cousins as the last out of the first inning, Matsuzaka retired 14 batters in a row, with three strikeouts in that span, getting him into the sixth inning with one out.Meanwhile, Sox batters got to Marlins starter Carlos Zambrano for two runs in the fourth and another in the fifth to tie the game.Matsuzaka got through five innings on 90 pitches, 63 of which were strikes. Matsuzakas season high was 93 pitches in six innings in his last outing, June 15 in Chicago. But he returned for the sixth inning, with the score tied, 3-3, and with right-handed hitters Ramirez and Stanton due up. Morrison, a lefty, would be next. So Sox lefty Andrew Miller was warming up to start the inning.Matsuzaka got Ramirez to ground out to Will Middlebrooks to open the sixth. But with apologies to Dustin Pedroia here Stanton blistered a laser beam into the first stairwell in the left field Monster seats.Matsuzakas outing was done.There were a couple of things said after the first inning and he was also very, very hot, Valentine said after the game, which had a 92 degree temperature at first pitch.We wanted to bring a towel rather than a messenger. He didn't adjust well to all that sweating. After that he was near perfect and hung one ball to Stanton, and increased his velocity, threw more strikes, worked quicker, did everything that we wanted him to do.Matsuzaka, who is still in search of his 50th career win, saw his ERA go from 5.73 to 6.06 with the outing. Although he left with the Sox trailing by a run, the Sox offense pulled out the late-innings win.Honestly, I think Dice did awesome, said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. He battled. He got to the second, third and got two big outs for us. And then Dobbs, hes a professional hitter, been doing it for years. We tried to go cutter in off the plate a little bit and got too much of the plate and he was able to do something with it. But he did a great job with Logan whos been, we cant miss his barrel this whole series. That was a big out for us. Almost got out of it. After that Dice just went back to what he does best. Just mixing his pitches, making them a little off balance and making good pitches.For Stanton, it was his 15th home run of the season, first since June 7 against the Braves.Matsuzaka was a little shaky in the first inning, Stanton said. Besides that, he did a great job. He was working in and out and using all his pitches. He had our timing a little off.

New photo surfaces of noticeably thinner Pablo Sandoval

New photo surfaces of noticeably thinner Pablo Sandoval

When it comes to Pablo Sandoval and his weight, a picture is worth a thousand words.

During spring training it wasn’t a good thing. Sandoval made headlines when a number of photos revealed significant weight gain for the Red Sox third baseman.

But the last two images have been more positive for Sandoval.

In October, a noticeably thinner Sandoval was photographed at an FC Barcelona game.

On Monday, Dan Roche of WBZ tweeted a more recent picture of the new-look Sandoval.

Sandoval, 30, is entering the third season of a five-year, $95 million contract. In his lone full season in Boston, 2015, Sandoval hit .245/.292/.366 with 10 homers and 47 RBI.

Red Sox taking stricter luxury tax penalties into consideration this offseason

Red Sox taking stricter luxury tax penalties into consideration this offseason

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The newly agreed upon Major League Baseball collective bargaining agreement features higher taxes and additional penalties for exceeding the competitive balance threshold -- and don't think the Red Sox haven't noticed.

The Red Sox went over the threshold in both 2015 and 2016, and should they do so again in 2017, they would face their highest tax rate yet at 50 percent. Additionally, there are provisions that could cost a team in such a situation to forfeit draft picks as well as a reduced pool of money to sign its picks.

None of which means that the Red Sox won't definitively stay under the $195 million threshold for the upcoming season. At the same time, however, it remains a consideration, acknowledged Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.

"You would always like to be under the CBT (competitive balance tax) if you could,'' offered Dombrowski. "And the reason why is that are penalties attached for going over, so nobody likes to (pay) penalties.

"However, the Red Sox, if you follow history, have been up-and-down, right around that number. We were over it last year and the year before that. So I would prefer (to be under in 2017). However, a little bit more driving force in that regard is that there are stricter penalties now attached to going over. And some of them involve, for the first time, differences in draft choices and sacrificing money to sign players and that type of thing. So there's a little bit more drive (to stay under).

"But I can't tell you where we're going to end up. Eventually, does it factor (in)? Yeah. But until we really get into the winter time and see where we are, will I make an unequivocal (statement about staying under the CBT)? Maybe we won't. But there are penalties that I would rather not be in position to incur.''

Dombrowski stressed that he's not under a "mandate'' from ownership to stay under the CBT.

"But I am under an awareness of the penalties,'' he said. "Last year, I would have preferred to be under, too, but it just worked for us to be above it, because we thought that would be the best way to win a championship at the time.''

He added: "I think we're going to have a good club either way.''

But it's clear that the CBT is part of the reason the Red Sox aren't being more aggressive toward some premium free agents such as first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnacion, who is said to be looking for at least a four-year deal at an annual average value of more than $20 million.

Currently, the Red Sox have nearly $150 million in guaranteed contracts for 2017, plus a handful of arbitration-eligible players, some of whom (Drew Pomeranz, Jackie Bradley Jr.) will see significant raises.

Together, with insurance premiums and others costs tallied, the Sox stand at nearly $180 million, just $15 million under the 2017 tax.

"I've said all along I've wanted to stay away from long-term contracts for hitters at this point,'' Dombrowski said of the current free agent class, "(especially) with some of the guys we have in our organization coming. I just haven't felt that that's a wise thing to do.''

The Sox saw two potential DHs come off the board over the weekend, with Carlos Beltran signing a one-year $16 million deal with Houston and Matt Holliday getting $13 million from the Yankees. Either could have filled the vacancy left by David Ortiz's retirement, but Dombrowski would also be taking on another another eight-figure salary, pushing the Sox well past the CBT.

"I figured we would wait to see what ends up taking place later on,'' said Dombrowski, "and see who's out there.''