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.

Dodgers sign OF Jason Heyward to minor league deal

Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
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LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Dodgers signed outfielder Jason Heyward to a minor league deal and invited him to spring training.

The 33-year-old was released by the Chicago Cubs earlier this offseason.

Heyward, who was injured at times last season, put up the worst offensive numbers of his career, batting .204 and with 10 RBIs and one home run in 137 plate appearances. However, he’s a valuable defender in the outfield.

The deal reunites Heyward with first baseman Freddie Freeman. They came up through the Atlanta Braves system and have remained friends ever since.

Heyward was a leader in the Cubs’ clubhouse, helping them win the 2016 World Series.