Red Sox notes: Dice-K seeing improvement


Red Sox notes: Dice-K seeing improvement

By Sean McAdam

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It's too early to determine whether the recommended changes in his between-start routine are having a positive effect on Daisuke Matsuzaka. But so far, so good.

After tossing five innings of two-hit ball Tuesday in Lakeland against the Detroit Tigers, Matsuzaka followed that up with 5 23 innings against the St. Louis Cardinals in a 10-3 Sox' loss, allowing two runs on three hits.

Matsuzaka worked quickly and showed good life on his fastball.

Earlier this week, the Sox had Matsuzaka change his throwing program. He had been long-tossing and throwing a side session on the same day and the Sox believed that was taking too much of a physical toll.

"I thought he had good tempo and threw strikes,'' said Terry Francona. "That's two good starts in a row now. It looks like he's starting to gear up. I thought he was pretty good.''

"I'm following the throwing program between outings,'' said Matsuzaka. "I'm getting comfortable with the new program, but I want to keep watching it and see how it will fit me.''

The Sox are heartened by the fact that his velocity has been up in each of his last two starts, while Matsuzaka was pleased with his ability to throw his breaking ball for strikes.

Matsuzaka also added that he was not concerned with being placed fifth in the Boston rotation.

The Sox got down to 40 players in camp with three roster moves.

They optioned catcher Mark Wagner and outfielder Daniel Nava to the Pawtucket roster and assigned pitcher Matt Fox to the minor-league camp.

Wagner is expected to share the PawSox' catching duties -- probably with Luis Expositio -- and Nava will be Pawtucket's starting left fielder.

Fox will pitch out of the Pawtucket bullpen.

It's likely that more cuts will be made Tuesday.

Dennys Reyes helped his bid to grab one of the two available spots in the Red Sox bullpen, pitching a scoreless inning with a hit allowed and two strikeouts. In seven spring innings, the veteran lefty has allowed five hits and fanned seven.

Rich Hill, batting for one of the same two spots, also chipped in with a scoreless inning, running his streak to seven straight outings without allowing a run.

Righty Scott Atchison wasn't so furtunate, giving up four hits and two runs in an inning and a third. Atchison's ERA for the spring is a bloated 6.48.

Former manager Joe Torre, newly appointed as MLB's vice president of baseball operations, visited before the game with Francona as part of Torre's tour of the 30 camps. Torre will be in charge of discipline and on-field operations.

Also visiting City of Palms yesterday: former Red Sox VP Charles Steinberg, now working in the commissioner's office.

Sean McAdam can be reached at Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Ortiz wins Hank Aaron Award as top hitter in American League


Ortiz wins Hank Aaron Award as top hitter in American League

CLEVELAND -- David Ortiz is heading into retirement with some more hardware.

The Boston Red Sox slugger captured the Hank Aaron Award on Wednesday as the top hitter in the American League this season. Budding Chicago Cubs star Kris Bryant was honored as the top hitter in the National League.

The award was presented before Game 2 of the World Series between the Cubs and Cleveland. It was determined through a combination of fan voting and a panel that includes Aaron and other Hall of Fame players.

The 40-year-old Ortiz hit .315 with 38 home runs, 127 RBIs and 48 doubles in the 20th and final season of his major league career. His 541 career home runs rank 17th all-time.

The 24-year-old Bryant hit .292 with 39 home runs and 102 RBIs while helping the Cubs cruise to the NL Central title and eventually a spot in the World Series. Shortly after being honored, Bryant singled in the first inning for his first Series hit.