Dice-K cruising toward mid-March spring debut

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Thumbnail image for daisuke matsuzaka return.jpgDaisuke Matsuzaka looked strong during a lengthy bullpen session on Sunday afternoon and the Red Sox are beginning to map out a schedule for his spring game debut. 

Dan Barbarisi of the Providence Journal believes that debut may come on March 17 against the Mets or March 19 against the Pirates.  Either way, it’s good to hear that Matsuzaka will have about three weeks to get geared up for the start of the regular season.  The right-hander got off to a team-prescribed slow start this spring, but he launched 65 pitches on Sunday in a bullpen session and got a nice review from pitching coach John Farrell soon after.

“I’m encouraged from the standpoint he threw 65 pitches, and used all of
his pitches in the bullpen,” said Farrell.  “Right now it’s more of refining the timing
in his delivery and establishing a release point on each individual
pitch, as opposed from a health standpoint that he’s not feeling
anything, which he is not.”

Dice-K is hoping to improve on the 5.76 ERA that he posted in 12 starts last season.

Report: Mets ownership backs Terry Collins

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The Mets entered Sunday night’s game against the Pirates with a disappointing 20-27 record. While the club has dealt with a litany of injuries, manager Terry Collins has also drawn criticism for in-game decision-making, particularly regarding his decision-making.

Owner Fred Wilpon is still Collins’ strongest supporter, however, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports. As a result, the team is unlikely to make a managerial change anytime soon. If the Mets continue to struggle, though, ownership may feel pressured to make a change.

Collins became the longest-tenured manager in Mets history last week. Collins managed the Mets to a 77-85 record in 2011 and has overall helped the club go 501-518, winning the NL Pennant in 2015. He is not signed to a contract beyond this season.

Joe Mauer becomes first Twin to reach base seven times in a game since Rod Carew

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Twins first baseman Joe Mauer had a game for the record books on Sunday against the Rays. He finished 4-for-5 with an RBI double, a solo home run, two singles, and three walks in eight plate appearances. Unfortunately for him, the Twins still lost 8-6 in 15 innings.

ESPN’s Stats & Info notes that Mauer is the first Twin to reach base seven times in one game since Rod Carew in 1972 against the Brewers. The last player to reach base seven times in one game (without the aid of an error) was Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford on August 8 last season against the Marlins. The feat has only been accomplished seven times this decade, so about once a year.

After Sunday’s game, Mauer is batting .283/.363/.408 with three home runs, 18 RBI, and 23 runs scored in 171 plate appearances. Not too shabby.