Dice-K cuts batting practice short with stiff neck

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matsuzaka sunglasses.JPGIt’s probably safe to say we can take Daisuke Matsuzaka out of the mix to start the season in Boston’s rotation. Dice-K’s live batting practice session on Saturday was scratched due to a stiff neck. He threw just five pitches in the bullpen before shutting it down.

Today was going to be an important step forward for Dice-K, who was tentatively scheduled to appear in his first game action on Wednesday, likely against minor leaguers. That start will almost surely be pushed back now that Matsuzaka needs to return to Boston for some personal matters.

The Red Sox have taken it slow with Matsuzaka since he complained of some back stiffness at the start of camp in February.

Assuming Matsuzaka starts the season on the disabled list, Boston’s rotation will consist of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz and Tim Wakefield.

Royals sign Clay Buchholz to minor league deal

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Royals have signed pitcher Clay Buchholz to a minor league deal. Buchholz will earn a $1.5 million salary if he makes the club’s major league roster and can earn an additional $250,000 through incentives. Buchholz has an opt-out date set for May 1, which means if he isn’t on the Royals’ 25-man roster by then, he can request his release.

Buchholz, 33, was acquired by the Phillies from the Red Sox in December 2016, but he made only two starts before an MRI revealed he had a partial tear of his right flexor pronator mass. He underwent surgery in April and missed the rest of the season.

The Royals recently lost Jesse Hahn, who was diagnosed with a sprained right UCL. Buchholz would likely be in consideration for a rotation spot if another starter were to suffer an injury. Presently, the Royals’ rotation appears set with Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, Jason Hammel, Jake Junis, and Nate Karns.