Dice-K cruising toward mid-March spring debut

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Thumbnail image for daisuke matsuzaka return.jpgDaisuke Matsuzaka looked strong during a lengthy bullpen session on Sunday afternoon and the Red Sox are beginning to map out a schedule for his spring game debut. 

Dan Barbarisi of the Providence Journal believes that debut may come on March 17 against the Mets or March 19 against the Pirates.  Either way, it’s good to hear that Matsuzaka will have about three weeks to get geared up for the start of the regular season.  The right-hander got off to a team-prescribed slow start this spring, but he launched 65 pitches on Sunday in a bullpen session and got a nice review from pitching coach John Farrell soon after.

“I’m encouraged from the standpoint he threw 65 pitches, and used all of
his pitches in the bullpen,” said Farrell.  “Right now it’s more of refining the timing
in his delivery and establishing a release point on each individual
pitch, as opposed from a health standpoint that he’s not feeling
anything, which he is not.”

Dice-K is hoping to improve on the 5.76 ERA that he posted in 12 starts last season.

Report: Mets sign Wilson Ramos to two-year, $19 million deal

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The Mets have signed catcher Wilson Ramos to a two-year deal, SNY’s Andy Martino reports. The total value of the contract is $19 million, per Fancred’s Jon Heyman.

Ramos, 31, split last season between the Rays and Phillies, putting up one of the best offensive seasons among catchers. In 416 total plate appearances, he hit .306/.358/.487 with 15 home runs and 70 RBI.

Ramos will presumably get the lion’s share of plate appearances behind the plate with Travis d'Arnaud backing him up. Grandal was made a qualifying offer, so the Mets would have had to forfeit a draft pick to sign him. And, of course, Realmuto would have cost prospects. Ramos simply costs money.

The Mets were aggressively pursuing a catching upgrade, having been involved in rumors surrounding J.T. Realmuto and Yasmani Grandal, but ultimately settled on Ramos. New GM Brodie Van Wagenen has made a significant impact on the team already, having also added second baseman Robinson Canó and closer Edwin Díaz from a trade with the Mariners.