The Indians released Japanese right-handed starter Daisuke Matsuzaka on Tuesday after he posted a 3.92 ERA in 103.1 innings with Triple-A Columbus. The Mets signed him yesterday and immediately inserted him into the rotation to make his debut in Queens against the heavy-hitting Tigers, his first Major League appearance since October 3, 2012.
The Tigers quickly got to Matsuzaka. After Austin Jackson struck out to lead off the first inning, Torii Hunter smashed a solo home run to left inning. Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder followed up with singles, but “Dice-K” was able to work his way out of trouble. The Mets got the run back in the bottom half of the first on a Marlon Byrd RBI single.
In the second, Hunter and Cabrera teamed up to blow the game wide open. With runners on first and second and two outs, Hunter hit a ground-rule double, scoring one run. Then Cabrera crushed a three-run home run to left, his 41st of the season, to left field to put the Tigers up 5-1. It was also the 362nd home run of the third baseman’s career, putting him one ahead of Joe DiMaggio and tying him with Todd Helton for 76th all-time.
Matsuzaka calmed down, retiring ten consecutive Tigers after the Cabrera home run. He was pulled after five innings having allowed the five runs on six hits and a walk while striking out four. He threw 86 pitches. Carlos Torres came on in relief of Matsuzaka in the sixth.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.