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?

Jason Kipnis could join Team Israel for 2017 World Baseball Classic

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians throws during batting practice prior to Game Seven of the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.

For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.

Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.

Rangers to sign James Loney to minor league deal

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: James Loney #28 of the New York Mets tosses to first base against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.

Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.

The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.