For Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka, the 2011 regular season has already been a roller coaster ride.
Dice-K allowed six hits, three walks and three earned runs over five innings in his first start of the year against the Indians. He lasted only two frames next time out against the Rays, surrendering seven earned runs in a messy 16-5 loss.
There was talk after those first two starts that the Red Sox might replace Matsuzaka in their starting rotation temporarily — or permanently.
Oh, how times have changed.
The 30-year-old Tokyo native shut out the Angels over eight impressive innings on Saturday night in Anaheim and has given up just two hits, zero runs and four walks in his last 15 innings of work.
To say that Matsuzaka has figured it all out would be a bit of an overreaction, but he’s clearly doing something right. And with that batting lineup, all Boston really needs is for him to eat some innings this year.
The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.
Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.
Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.
As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.
Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.
Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.