A Preemptive Farewell to Dice-K

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A Preemptive Farewell to Dice-K

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

Our long international nightmare is over.

After four-plus agonizing seasons, Daisuke Matsuzakas thrown his final pitch for the Sox.

Fittingly enough, it was a ball four walk to Baltimores Matt Wieters on May 16. It was Dice-Ks 105th pitch of the night. It was also the fifth inning.

Matsuzaka finishes his underwhelming career in Boston with a 49-30 record, a 4.25 ERA, 568 Ks, 301 walks, hours upon hours wasted fiddling on the mound, a boatload of unfulfilled expectations and even more questions as to how it all went so wrong. Hes survived by a Nation of relieved fans. Hell be missed by no one. Now everyone please remove their hats, and join me in a moment of heartfelt celebration.

The Dice-K era is over!

OK, wait. Im jumping the gun just a little. Right now, all we know is that Dice-Ks headed for Tommy John surgery sometime in the very near future, and will miss the next 12-18 months. So in reality, theres a small window for him to rejoin the rotation before his contract expires in 2012.

But come on you really think hell be back? First of all, a comebacks predicated on a speedy recovery, which would be the first speedy thing Dice-Ks done since joining the team. (Unless you count the time he gave up five runs in the first in Oakland, but even that one inning took two and a half hours.) Second, even if hes healthy, with the way he and the Sox do business, itll be a shock if the two sides are even speaking by next summer. Can you imagine Theos reaction when Dice-K calls from post-op demanding to throw a side-session?

This is a divorce thats been brewing since the honeymoon, and the waters only getting murkier. Theres no way theyll see eye-to-eye over the next year, and at that point, whats the point in trying? Why not just cut your losses, save yourself some headaches and move on?

So, while the off-field soap opera might have a few more episodes left, you have to believe that the on-field horror movies finally been canceled.

Brothers and Sisters, Rejoice!

But lets also take a quick second to reflect on Matsuzakas shockingly disappointing career, with this question: Was it all his fault?

Thats a definite no. Dice-K was at least somewhat a victim of unrealistic expectations. When the Sox began their pursuit, he was barely even human. He was a mythical creature from the Far East, with a cool name, a rubber arm, a magical pitch, and the potential to take over Major League Baseball. He was Japans answer to Bill Bratsky.

Dice-K was so great that the Sox were willing to pay 50M just to talk to him. In 2011, that 50M could be used to pay the combined salaries of Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard, Jon Lester, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis. Thats how much they thought of him, so thats how much we expected. That probably wasnt fair.

And for as stubborn as Dice-Ks been, it also wasnt fair for the Sox to expect that hed be so willing to customize his approach to the game.

Think of it this way: What if the same year Dice-K came to Boston, the Japanese Golf Tour signed an exclusive megadeal with Tiger Woods. This was back when both Dice-K and Woods were still the best player in their respective countries.

Anyway, so Tiger gets over to Japan and they tell him: Tiger, you train too hard. At the rate youre going now, your body wont hold up, and we have way too much money invested in you for that to happen. So, were going to scale back the workouts. You know, that whole obsessive-compulsive routine that youve operated under your entire life? The one thats resulted in you becoming the athletic freak of nature that you are today? Yeah, were going to change that. Youre in our world now.

You think Tiger would have listened to them?

Or what if he did, and then struggled to regain his dominant form. Whos he going to blame: himself or the tour?

Is he going to build up some resentment? Maybe even act out?

Of course. And thats what Dice-K did.

I dont condone it, but I understand it.

From the very beginning, Ive understood where both sides were coming from in this drawn out drama. I get why the Sox pushed him to change, and I get why Dice-K resisted. And when the bottom fell out after the Winter Classic in 2009, I get why the relationship never recovered, and why this experiment was ultimately doomed. You had two very different groups of people set in two very different ways of life. Neither was very willing to compromise, and that never ends well.

And I'm sure this won't.

But, hey, what can you do?

Im just happy to never watch him pitch again.

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Pedroia (knee) out of lineup again after leaving game early Thursday

Pedroia (knee) out of lineup again after leaving game early Thursday

Dustin Pedroia is out of the lineup again tonight after leaving the Red Sox game Thursday night with knee pain in the fifth inning.

Josh Rutledge will start at second base as the Sox open a three-game series with the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park.  

The weather and sloppy field conditions were a factor in John Farrell deciding to get Pedroia out of the game Thursday and conditions haven’t improved significantly Friday. 

Pedroia (.288, two homers, 21 RBI) had surgery on that knee in October. It's the same leg that was hurt when Manny Machado slid into Pedroia at second base in April, the slide that sparked the plunking war between the Orioles and Red Sox.

The full lineups: 

MARINERS
Jean Segura SS
Guillermo Heredia CF
Robinson Canó 2B
Nelson Cruz DH
Kyle Seager 3B
Danny Valencia 1B
Taylor Motter LF
Ben Gamel RF
Mike Zunino C

Yovanni Gallardo RHP

RED SOX
Mookie Betts RF
Andrew Benintendi LF
Xander Bogaerts SS
Hanley Ramirez DH
Mitch Moreland 1B
Josh Rutledge 2B
Jackie Bradley Jr CF
Christian Vazquez C
Deven Marrero 3B

Eduardo Rodriguez LHP


 

Price on his return to Red Sox: ’There’s not a better feeling’

Price on his return to Red Sox: ’There’s not a better feeling’


BOSTON — Red Sox left-hander David Price is set to make his season debut in a holiday matinee Monday on the road in Chicago against the White Sox. 

Price, 31, starting the second season of a $217 million, seven-year contract, has been recovering from a strained pitching elbow since spring training.

“Excited, just to be back here,” he said Thursday. “There’s not a better feeling. You can’t replicate it anywhere else.”

Price allowed nine runs — six earned — and 12 hits in 5 2/3 innings in a pair of less-than-impressive injury rehabilitation starts at Triple-A Pawtucket. He struck out eight and walked two.

“A lot of pitches, in a short amount of time. I think that is more of a test to being healthy as opposed to going out there and throwing five or six [innings] in 90 pitches,” he said. “To do what I did in both of my rehab outings, I don’t think you can do that if you’re not healthy.”

The Red Sox (24-21) have won four in a row heading into their weekend series against the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park.

“He’s eager to get back to us and physically he feels great,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “His return to us will give us a definite boost but that’s not to de-emphasize he needs to go out and perform.”

Farrell hopes Price’s return has a trickle-down impact.

“It’s not based solely on the name on the back of his jersey,” Farrell said. “Hopefully it allows us to even out some of the performances within the rotation.”

© 2017 by The Associated Press.