Indians sign two former All-Stars

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Indians sign two former All-Stars

From Comcast SportsNetCLEVELAND (AP) -- With at least one spot open in his rotation, new Indians manager Terry Francona will give a pitcher he knows well a shot to win a starting job.Japanese right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka has agreed to a minor league contract with Cleveland. Matsuzaka, who pitched for Francona with the Boston Red Sox, must pass a physical for the deal to be finalized.The Indians' pitchers and catchers reported to camp in Goodyear, Ariz. on Sunday, with physicals scheduled to take place Monday.The 32-year-old Matsuzaka would get a 1.5 million, one-year contract if added to the 40-man roster and would be able to earn 2.5 million in performance bonuses based on innings and starts.He has won 50 major league games since signing a 52 million, six-year contract with Boston as free agent in 2007. Dice-K went 33-15 with a 3.72 ERA in 61 starts for Boston in 2007-08. However, he has been limited to 18 starts and 83 innings the last two seasons after right elbow surgery in 2011.Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez and Brett Myers are the only pitchers with guaranteed spots in Cleveland's rotation. Zach McAllister comes to camp favored to win the No. 4 spot, leaving Matsuzaka in a group with Scott Kazmir, Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, Corey Kluber and David Huff fighting it out this spring.Matsuzaka pitched in Japan from 1999-2006, going 108-60 with a 2.95 ERA for the Seibu Lions. The Red Sox won a bidding war over several teams to sign him and he went 15-12 in 32 starts in his first season in the AL.He was dominant in 2008, going 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA and recording 154 strikeouts in 167 2-3 innings. He finished fourth in voting for the AL Cy Young Award.But Matsuzaka's numbers have dropped alarmingly in the past four years. He has gone 17-22 with a 5.53 ERA and underwent Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery in June 2011. He began last year in the minors before joining the Red Sox and going 1-7 with an 8.28 in 11 starts.If added to the big league roster, he would be able to earn 700,000 based on innings -- 100,000 each for 50, 75, 100, 120, 140, 150 and 160 -- and 1.8 million based on starts -- 200,000 apiece for eight, 10, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27 and 30.The Indians' preliminary agreement with Matsuzka comes one day after the club signed 42-year-old slugger Jason Giambi to a minor league deal.Giambi could fill a hole at designated hitter for Francona, who has said he's willing to use several players in that role. Giambi spent the past three-plus seasons as a part-time player for Colorado.A five-time All-Star and former AL MVP, Giambi has 429 career homers -- just one in 89 at-bats for the Rockies last season.

Morning Skate: Not a dry eye as Canucks draftee gets the call

Morning Skate: Not a dry eye as Canucks draftee gets the call

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while getting ready to check out GLOW on Netflix.

*This video of a Vancouver Canucks draft pick tearing up while watching the video of his brother celebrating him getting picked is all that is right with the NHL Draft.  

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Adrian Dater has Avs first-round pick Cale Makar talking about his hockey background, and why it doesn’t matter.

*The Calgary Flames are excited about their prospects and the pieces they were able to acquire last weekend.

*The Washington Capitals have re-signed Brett Connolly for a couple of years at short money and he appears to have found a home in DC.

*The Chicago Blackhawks are still in talks with Marian Hossa about how to resolve his contract and the allergic skin condition that might have prematurely ended his hockey career.

*Will the Tampa Bay sports go through a dry spell when it comes to Hall of Fame athletes now that former Lighting forward Dave Andreychuk has been called to the Hockey Hall?

*It looks like young Pierre Luc Dubois will be put in a position to contribute with the Columbus Blue Jackets this season.

*Alex Prewitt has a preview of the NHL free agency period and the stress levels that many players go through in it.

*For something completely different: This video of Drake and Will Ferrell hoop handshakes was pretty solid, and funny.

 

Drellich: Hanley Ramirez has to improve or Red Sox need to try others

Drellich: Hanley Ramirez has to improve or Red Sox need to try others

BOSTON — It doesn’t really matter what’s holding Hanley Ramirez back: his health, his desire to play at less-than-100 percent, neither, both. The Red Sox need him to produce more at the plate, as the designated hitter, or need to play someone who can produce more.

The suggestion of putting Ramirez on the disabled list so that his shoulders (and now, his left knee, where he was hit by a pitch Sunday) may heal is reasonable. If you can’t hit well — if you can’t even be in the lineup — why are you on the roster?

Ramirez was out for a second straight game Tuesday night. 

Flat-out benching Ramirez in favor of Chris Young or Sam Travis or both for a time makes sense too. Young will DH again Tuesday and Travis will start at first against Twins left-hander Hector Santiago. 

Try one, try all. The route to better production doesn’t matter. As long as the Sox get some, be it from Ramirez or somewhere else.

After Mitch Moreland, who’s playing with a fractured big toe on his left foot, homered and had another impactful night on Monday, Sox manager John Farrell made some comments that are hard to read as anything but a message to Ramirez.

“In his most recent stretch, he’s been able to get on top of some fastballs that have been at the top of the strike zone or above for some power obviously,” Farrell said. “But I think the way he’s gone about it given the physical condition he’s in, is a strong message to the remainder of this team.”

Tuesday is June 27. From May 27 on, Ramirez is hitting .202 with a .216 on-base percentage and .369 slugging percentage. 

In the final three months of the 2016 season, Ramirez hit .300 with a .379 OBP and .608 slugging percentage. That’s from the start of July through the end of the regular season. 

The potential for such a second-half surge is hard to ignore. The Sox need to figure out if Ramirez is healthy enough to give it to them, and if not, be willing to give someone else an extended look — be it with Ramirez on the bench or the DL.