Quote of the Day: Farrell on Daisuke, WBC

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Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell, on Daisuke Matsuzaka’s chances of pitching again this season after landing on the disabled list with shoulder weakness:

Our every intention will be to get him back this year. Now, I say
that with no end time frame that says on August 1, he’s going to be
back in our rotation. There are going to be objectives that he’s going
to have to meet along the way here both in terms of strength and
conditioning, both from a body standpoint and from a shoulder
standpoint. … I think it’s important to clarify, there are reports
out there that Daisuke is suffering from a sore shoulder. That is far
from the truth.

He does have some deficiencies in strength that goes back to the
preparation for a full season that in this case has not been afforded.
And when you ramp up too quick, you fatigue it, and then trying to come
back, you’re working it to get back in shape and there’s just not ample
time or format to do that. Fortunately with [John] Smoltz coming to us,
we have that time on our side and we’re going to take the time needed
to get Daisuke right to the pitcher he was the past two years.

In other words, don’t expect to see Matsuzaka any time soon. His injury
allows Boston to add John Smoltz to the rotation without having to
trade Brad Penny and the Red Sox’s incredible pitching depth–along
with Smoltz and Penny, they also have Clay Buchholz and Michael Bowden
at Triple-A–leaves them with no real incentive to bring Matsuzaka back
before he’s clearly ready.

Interestingly, Farrell went on to blame the World Baseball Classic
for Matsuzaka’s shoulder problems, saying: “I think it’s clear now that
there have been two of these tournaments, that the season performances
of the pitchers who participate in that tournament take a step
backward. It’s not just Daisuke.”

Steven Matz to skip next spring training start with elbow issues

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Mets’ left-hander Steven Matz will miss his Grapefruit League appearance on Monday after experiencing soreness in his left elbow, according to a report by Mike Puma of the New York Post. Matz reportedly first felt discomfort in his elbow on Wednesday after pitching four innings against the Marlins, but a medical evaluation revealed no structural damage.

Still, it’s unsettling news for the 25-year-old, who is coming off of an injury-riddled 2016 season. Matz pitched to a 3.40 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 8.8 SO/9 during his sophomore campaign with the Mets, but his success was hampered by a bevy of shoulder and elbow issues that culminated in season-ending surgery to remove bone spurs from his left elbow.

Comments from Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson indicated that while the club doesn’t believe anything is significantly wrong with Matz’s elbow this time around, the setback could have an impact on his chances of cracking the Opening Day roster. Until he’s cleared to return to the mound, the club is expected to take a longer look at rotation candidates Robert Gsellman, Zack Wheeler and Seth Lugo.

Video: Andrew Toles hammers grand slam in Cactus League win

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Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.

Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).

Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.