Daisuke Matsuzaka

OK, Francona: what have you done with the real Daisuke Matsuzaka?

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Patriots’ Day in Boston means three things: the Boston Marathon, drinking at 8AM and an 11AM start for the Red Sox game.  Which, in turn, gives you plenty of time after 2PM or so to go and have some more beers. I could at least enjoy one of those things today, what the Red Sox-Blue Jays game on my little television.  It just went final: the Red Sox win 9-1.

The offensive explosion was something to behold — with Jed Lowrie going 4 for 5 with a homer and 4 RBI — but the real shocker here was Daisuke Matsuzaka.  Or at least, whoever it was that was wearing his uniform today, because I’ve never seen Dice-K this efficient and effective.  He threw 89 pitches in eight innings while giving up only one hit and walking only one guy.  He had a five-pitch inning for cryin’ out loud.  I’m fairly certain it was someone else pitching while the real Dice-K sits tied up in a storage locker someplace. Or, if you insist on ignoring my conspiracy theories, you can chalk it up to the week between starts. He has always done better on extra rest, so fine, maybe he hasn’t been kidnapped.

Of course, with Lowrie breaking out like he has lately, perhaps Marco Scutaro may be the next one to show up on the missing persons list. Because I don’t think we’ll be seeing him for a while.

Three straight wins for the Sox. Are they over the early season funk?

Report: Royals and Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Eric Hosmer #35 of the Kansas City Royals and the American League rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the National League in the 2nd inning of the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Denis Poroy/Getty Images
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.

Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.

Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.

Yankees sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 17:  Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images
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Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.

According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.

Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.