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.

Felix Hernandez dealing with “dead arm”

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Mariners starter Felix Hernandez is dealing with “dead arm” and will head back to Seattle to have his shoulder examined, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports. Hernandez was reportedly visibly upset and left the clubhouse quickly, declining to speak to the media, Divish adds.

Hernandez wasn’t long for Tuesday’s game against the Tigers, as he lasted just two innings, yielding four runs on six hits and two walks with two strikeouts. The Mariners went on to lose 19-9. Hernandez is now carrying a 4.73 ERA over his first five starts.

Not much else can go wrong for the Mariners, who are now 8-13 in last place in the AL West. Mitch Haniger also suffered an oblique injury on Tuesday, joining what is becoming a lengthy list of dinged-up Mariners.

Video: Chris Coghlan dives home to beat the tag

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Blue Jays pinch-hitter Chris Coghlan found a creative way to beat the tag from Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina in the top of the seventh inning of Tuesday night’s game.

With the score tied 2-2, the Jays had a runner on first base and one out as Kevin Pillar faced reliever Matt Bowman. Pillar drove a 1-1 fastball to deep right field. Stephen Piscotty leaped in an attempt to make the catch, but the ball caromed off the wall and back towards the field. Coghlan, who was on first, made his way around third towards home. Piscotty threw home past the cutoff man and the ball reached Molina on several bounces. As Molina went low to apply the tag, Coghlan went high, leaping into the air and somersaulting into home plate to score the go-ahead run.

The Blue Jays would go on to score two in the inning, but the Cardinals answered with two of their own in the bottom half of the seventh. As of this writing, the score remains tied at four apiece.