The Red Sox, Dice-K getting along again

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Last year the relationship between the Red Sox and Daisuke Matsuzaka got icy. Over his conditioning, mostly, but the problem may have been exacerbated by cultural stuff and the fact that Dice-K was away for the WBC in the spring.

That’s all better now, reports Pete Abraham. Terry Francona: “We kind of put the gloves down and told him how we felt and he told us.
I think it was really good for everybody. We had probably gotten to the
point where we needed to have pretty direct conversations. And from him
to us, also. I think it was good.”  Theo Epstein: “We’re going to have a full infrastructure in place for all our Japanese
players and a full infrastructure in place for all our pitchers.
Daisuke will work with our training staff and work with our pitching

A functioning and effective Matsuzaka will make a big difference for a Red Sox team that had a putative pitching surplus basically disappear over the summer.

Mike Trout has yet to strike out this spring

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Everyone is well aware of how good Angels outfielder Mike Trout is at the game of baseball. The 26-year-old is already an all-time great, having won two MVP awards — and arguably deserving of two others — and the 2012 Rookie of the Year Award. He has accrued 54.2 WAR, per Baseball Reference, which is right around the threshold for a Hall of Fame career. Trout does it all: he draws walks, he hits for average, he hits for power, he steals bases, he plays good defense.

But here’s an achievement that is amazing even for a player like Trout: he has yet to strike out this spring. In 41 Cactus League plate appearances, he has 10 hits (including a triple and two homers) and six walks with zero strikeouts. Across his career, Trout has a 21.5 percent strikeout rate, right around the league average. He isn’t usually such a stickler for avoiding the punch-out, but this spring he is.

To put this in perspective, 134 players this spring have struck out at least 10 times, according to 938 players have struck out at least once. The only other players to have taken at least 10 at-bats without striking out this spring are Humberto Arteaga (Royals, 23 AB), Tony Cruz (Reds, 18 AB), Oscar Hernandez (Red Sox, 10 AB), and Jacob Stallings (Pirates, 18 AB).

According to Angels assistant hitting coach Paul Sorrento, the lack of strikeouts hasn’t been a conscious effort from Trout, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. Ho hum. The best player in baseball is apparently getting even better.