Daisuke Matsuzaka to begin rehab assignment Monday

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Daisuke Matsuzaka is far enough ahead of schedule in his recovery from Tommy John elbow surgery that he’s slated to begin a minor-league rehab assignment Monday at high Single-A.

Matsuzaka went under the knife last June and the typical recovery timetable is 12 months, but Alex Speier of WEEI.com reports that the Red Sox will already allow him to throw around 75 pitches Monday.

Or as manager Bobby Valentine put it: “He’s ready to start dealing with competition rather than rehabilitation.”

Once the rehab assignment begins Matsuzaka has a maximum of 30 days in the minors, which if used would equal about five total starts and leave him on track to rejoin the Red Sox at some point in May. Of course, any kind of setback could restart that timetable and there’s little reason for the Red Sox to rush him back considering how shaky he was before the injury, but so far so good.

Cubs place Brandon Morrow on disabled list with biceps inflammation

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ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reports that the Cubs have placed closer Brandon Morrow on the 10-day disabled with inflammation in his right biceps. Manager Joe Maddon said he doesn’t anticipate Morrow being on the DL for much more than the minimum 10 days. He said, “Velocity was down last outing. I asked him about it after the game and could tell he was holding something back. Said it was just that time of year.”

Morrow, 33, has had an excellent season for the Cubs, saving 22 games with a 1.47 ERA and a 31/9 K/BB ratio in 30 2/3 innings. The right-hander is under contract next year at $9 million and has a 2020 vesting option worth $12 million with a $3 million buyout.

Steve Cishek and Pedro Strop will likely handle save situations while Morrow is out.