Matsuzaka thinks return will be earlier than expected

657720.jpg

Matsuzaka thinks return will be earlier than expected

FORT MYERS, Fla. Daisuke Matsuzaka, sporting an auburn-ish, shaggy do, his right shoulder and arm wrapped in a large ice pack, talked about his recovery from Tommy John surgery in June.

Im still far from my goal, where I want to be, he said. So Im just taking it day by day and do what I can each day. But Ive been told by the trainers that my rehab is going well. So Im happy about that.

I try not to set a particular date for myself but the trainers have mentioned an approximate data they have mentioned they expect me to make a return. But having said that I want to come back at a 100 percent and I dont want to rush things. I want to make sure my bodys right when I come back, but I also would like to come back as early as possible.

When might that date be?

Id rather not say but its probably earlier than what you guys have in mind.

Matsuzaka, who is entering the final year of his six-year, 52 million contract, has not always been comfortable in his tenure with the Sox. Perhaps having Bobby Valentine, who managed for seven seasons in Japan, at the helm for the Sox could help Matsuzaka.

In Japan I only knew him as the opposing teams manager, Matsuzaka said. So I look forward to getting to know him as a person in spring training. And I had the opportunity to speak with him at length yesterday and he had looked up everything for my career since I came to the majors and we had a very good conversation.

Asked if the conversation was in Japanese, Matsuzaka replied:

There was more Japanese than I had expected and I was very impressed with his Japanese.

Their conversation included Valentines comments as an ESPN analyst when he was critical of the Sox handling of the Japanese pitcher.

He spoke his side of his opinion., which I thought were very insightful and I also told him my thoughts on that and I think were on the same page, Matsuzaka said. We can move forward now.

Matsuzaka and Valentine played catch at the start of Tuesdays workout, a first for Matsuzaka.

It was my first time playing catch with my manager since becoming a professional, he said. So I was very nervous at the beginning.

Bruins sign pair of draft picks, including BC's Fitzgerald, to entry-level deals

Bruins sign pair of draft picks, including BC's Fitzgerald, to entry-level deals

Amidst the current turmoil at the NHL level, the Bruins delivered a little good news about the future today . . . with more potentially to come. 

The Bruins announced the signing of a pair of prospects/former draft picks -- Boston College forward Ryan Fitzgerald and defenseman Emil Johansson -- to entry-level contracts that will kick in next season. There will likely be another wave of signings with the Bruins from the amateur ranks once players like Charlie McAvoy, Anders Bjork and Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson are finished up with their college teams in the NCAA tournament, though it remains to be seen exactly which players end up taking the NHL plunge. 

There was some uncertainty as to whether Fitzgerald would definitely sign with Boston after completing his senior season at BC, but he will immediately join the Providence Bruins on an amateur tryout agreement after signing a two-year deal. Johansson will join the Bruins on a Professional Tryout Agreement with a three-year entry level deal that kicks off next season. 

The 5-foot-10, 177-pound Fitzgerald was an alternate captain for BC in 2016-17, with 12 goals and 19 assists for 31 points in 34 games with 56 penalty minutes and a plus-14 rating. Fitzgerald is also the son of Billerica native and former Bruins forward Tommy Fitzgerald, who took to Twitter on Friday to voice his overwhelming pride over his oldest signing an NHL contract. He was a fourth-round pick by the Bruins in 2013.

Johansson, 20, completed his first season with Djurgardens IF of the Swedish Hockey League in 2016-17, establishing career highs with 7 goals and 10 assists for 17 points with 26 penalty minutes in 49 games. The B's selected him in the seventh round in 2014.

Report: Clippers' Griffin willing to consider Celtics in free agency

Report: Clippers' Griffin willing to consider Celtics in free agency

With all attention focused on overtaking the Cavs for the No. 1 seed in the East, the offseason -- trades, the draft, free agency -- is on the backburner in Celtics Nation these days.

But that pot's still simmering,

And it began to boil a little today when Bleacher Report's Kevin Ding, in the middle of a story on the Clippers being at a crossroad, threw a little accelerant on that old Blake Griffin-to-Boston flame . . .

But more and more people around the league believe he would be open to a fresh start — perhaps with the Lakers or the Boston Celtics, who have coveted Griffin for years and would offer a new chance to win. The most intriguing fit might be if he were to go home to Oklahoma to join Russell Westbrook and the Thunder, but his interests in the entertainment industry make staying in Los Angeles a priority.

Not much of a thread to grab there. But that didn't prevent cbssports.com's James Herbert from looking into it . . .  

Jumping to another contender on a max contract might not be simple. As CelticsBlog’s Keith P. Smith pointed out, Boston would have to dump Terry Rozier, waive Tyler Zeller and renounce all its free agents, including Kelly Olynyk, Jonas Jerebko and Amir Johnson, in order to even get near the amount of cap room that would be required to offer Griffin or someone like Gordon Hayward a max deal. 

Then again, Herbert says the Lakers and Thunder, Griffin's supposed other two destination spots, are even less financially flexible than the C's.

For now, it's all just a temporary diversion from the battle for No. 1.

It's also a reminder, though, that a whole new season -- the offseason -- is just around the corner.