Matsuzaka happy after first spring training outing

191542.jpg

Matsuzaka happy after first spring training outing

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. In his first four seasons with the Red Sox, Daisuke Matsuzaka has posted a record of 46-27 with a 4.18 ERA. Although he is 19 games above .500, most of that can be attributed to his 2008 season, when he went 18-3 (2.90). Take that season away and his record is 28-24, with a 4.70 ERA.

While those numbers might not be awful, they are closer to what might be expected from a No. 5 starter than certainly from a top-of-the rotation arm, which is how he was billed before his inaugural 2007 season. Other numbers that are just as concerning 144 games over the last two seasons for which he has been on the disabled list.

After his first Grapefruit League outing, Monday against the Twins at City of Palms Park, Matsuzaka acknowledged as much.

In the past two years the condition, the overall condition was not excellent and was not to the point where I needed to be, Matsuzaka said through interpreter Kenta Yamada. So this year my goal will be to in better shape and be on the mound throughout the whole year during the regular season.

Matsuzaka, who appears to be slimmer this spring, is entering the fifth year of a six-year contract that will pay him 20 million over the next two seasons. He has no worries, he said, about his overall condition. In the offseason he worked on strengthening his legs to help him maintain his condition throughout the season.

His goal for the season, he said, is to be a part of the rotation. Its important for him, he said, to be able to compete at the same level as the other starters.

At this stage theres no promise to be a part of the rotation, he said. So, in order to solidify to the rotation I like to keep the good health, healthy conditions, and then show the good result during the spring season.

Working with catcher Jason Varitek on Monday, Matsuzaka went two innings, giving up one run on a Jason Kubel solo homer, with a walk and a strikeout on 25 pitches (14 strikes). He had two outs and a 3-and-2 count when Kubel blasted a shot of the screen in center field. Matsuzaka said he is trying to incorporate a cutter into his repertoire more.

As its the first outing of the spring season, the fastball is running pretty well, Matsuzaka said. Thats something Im very confident with. Overall, I think I did a very good job as a first outing.

The command of the fastball was very good . . . The cutter was not as good as I expected. So I will take a step to fix it during this spring season.

Manager Terry Francona was pleased with what he saw.

Very good velocity. That was exciting to see that, especially early on, he said. Very aggressive with his fastball. Had some good life to it. I was excited about that.

He threw the ball fine, said one scout in attendance. Good tempo with his delivery and went right at the hitters. He was aggressive and looked confident.

At this point in the spring, Francona is looking for simple things from his pitchers: building arm strength and pounding the strike zone.

The expectations for Matsuzaka will be much higher during the season.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

Youkilis weighs in on Valentine possibly being Japan ambassador

Youkilis weighs in on Valentine possibly being Japan ambassador

Among the reactions to the news that Bobby Valentine was possibly being considered to be the US amassador to Japan in President Donald Trump’s administration was this beauty from Kevin Youkilis. 

Valentine famously called out Youkilis early in his stormy tenure as Red Sox manager in 2012. Remember? "I don't think he's as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason," Bobby V said of Youk at the time. 

The Red Sox traded Youkilis to the White Sox for two not-future Hall of Famers, outfielder Brent Lillibridge and right-hander Zach Stewart, later that season.

Youkilis, now Tom Brady’s brother-in-law by the way, had a 21-game stint playing in Japan in 2014 before retiring from baseball. 

 

Report: Bobby Valentine could be Trump’s US ambassador to Japan

Report: Bobby Valentine could be Trump’s US ambassador to Japan

Major league manager. Inventor of the wrap sandwich. Champion ballroom dancer.  And…

US ambassador to Japan?

Bobby Valentine is on the short list for that position in President Donald Trump’s administration, according to a WEEI.com report.

The former Red Sox manager (fired after a 69-93 season and last-place finish in 2012), and ex-New York Mets and Texas Rangers, skipper, also managed the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons. 

When asked by the New York Daily News if he's being considered for the post, Valentine responded: "I haven't been contacted by anyone on Trump's team." 

Would he be interested?

"I don't like to deal in hypotheticals," Valentine told the Daily News.

Valentine, 66, has known the President-elect and Trump's brother Bob since the 1980s, is close to others on Trump’s transition team and has had preliminary discussions about the ambassador position, sources told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. 

Valentine, currently the athletic director of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., is also friendly with current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who, like Valentine, attended the University of Southern California.