Daisuke Matsuzaka leaves start with elbow tightness

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Daisuke Matsuzaka, coming off the best two-start stretch of his Red Sox career, left Friday night’s game against the Mariners in the fifth inning with right elbow tightness.

Dice-K didn’t show any obvious signs of injury before being removed.  Jason Varitek came out to chat with him following an Ichiro Suzuki single in the fifth and then called for the training.  After a conversation, he left the game and was replaced by Matt Albers.

Matsuzaka allowed two runs in the first, one of which was uearned.  He was changed with a third run, also unearned, after departing in the fifth.

The Red Sox have always opted to tread carefully with Matsuzaka, so it’s safe to assume he’ll be placed on the DL after this one.  Rotation depth is an issue for the team at the moment, as the team’s projected six-through-eight starters have all spent time in the bullpen this month.  Tim Wakefield is still there, of course.  Felix Doubront and Alfredo Aceves both recently returned to Triple-A Pawtucket to start, and Aceves threw five innings in his outing today.

Aceves figures to be the eventual choice to replace Dice-K on the roster, but since he won’t be available for a few days, Michael Bowden could get the callup on Saturday.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.