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.

Phillies sign Trevor Plouffe to minor league deal

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Infielder Trevor Plouffe has signed a minor league deal with the Phillies, Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reports. Plouffe asked for and was granted his release from the Rangers earlier this month.

Plouffe, 31, had a double and a home run in 17 plate appearances with Triple-A Round Rock to start the 2018 season. He spent last year with the Athletics and Rays, putting up a meager .198/.272/.318 batting line in 100 games.

Plouffe has mostly played third base throughout his career, but can also handle the other three infield spots and both outfield corners, so he’ll serve as organizational depth at Triple-A Lehigh Valley for the Phillies.