Daisuke Matsuzaka makes first minor league rehab start

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Daisuke Matsuzaka officially kicked off his minor league rehab assignment tonight with High-A Salem. Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com has the details.

Matsuzaka, who underwent Tommy John surgery last June, allowed three runs on six hits over four innings while striking out three and walking none. He gave up two runs in the first inning (including a home run to the first batter he faced) and another solo homer in he second. Dice-K was pulled after throwing 40 out of 57 pitches for strikes.

Matsuzaka can spend a maximum of 30 days on his rehab assignment, so he’s on pace to make around five total starts in the minors before returning to the majors at some point next month. The Red Sox appear committed to keeping Daniel Bard in the rotation, but Dice-K could be an alternative if there is a change of plans. Aaron Cook, who is pitching well with Triple-A Pawtucket, is another option if a change is made in the rotation.

Matsuzaka, 31, is owed $10 million this season in the final year of his six-year, $52 million contract.

Sandy Leon homered twice in one inning, including a grand slam

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Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon achieved a rare feat during Monday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition against the Orioles: he homered twice in one inning. One of those homers happened to be a grand slam.

Leon led off the top of the fifth inning with a solo home run off of Logan Verrett. Verrett continued to get knocked around, giving up three singles and a walk before being relieved by Brian Moran. Moran gave up a walk to load the bases, then a single to knock in a run and keep the bases loaded. Leon stepped back to the plate and swatted a grand slam to left field, making it an eight-run fifth for the Red Sox. The Sox would tack on one more before the inning was mercifully ended.

How often do players homer twice in one inning during the regular season? Not that often. Since 2010, the feat has been accomplished four times in the American League and twice in the National League. The Orioles’ Mark Trumbo was the only one to do it last year.

As for Leon, he’s on track to open the season as the starting catcher in Boston, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reported last week.

Phillies release veteran catchers Ryan Hanigan and Bryan Holaday

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The Phillies announced on Monday that the club released veteran catchers Ryan Hanigan and Bryan Holaday. Both were competing for the back-up catcher spot on the team’s 25-man roster. With both out of the picture, that means Andrew Knapp has won that honor.

Knapp, 25, hit a combined .266/.330/.390 with eight home runs and 46 RBI in 443 plate appearances last year at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He did not have a great spring but has hit well as of late, which likely pushed him ahead of Hanigan and Holaday. Knapp will serve as the understudy to starting catcher Cameron Rupp.