Daisuke Matsuzaka scheduled for just two more rehab starts

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According to ESPNBoston.com, the Red Sox now have a timetable for Daisuke Matsuzaka’s return:

The right-hander, who had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in June 2011, is scheduled to start for the PawSox on May 17 and May 22 before his rehab assignment expires on May 23.

If all goes well in those final two Triple-A outings, Matsuzaka should be cleared to join Boston’s starting rotation during the final week of May.

The 31-year-old registered an ugly 5.30 ERA and 1.47 WHIP in 37 1/3 innings last season for the Red Sox before going under the knife in early-June. He owns a 4.25 career ERA in over 622 major league frames.

Orioles sign Alcides Escobar

Alcides Escobar
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The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.

Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.

Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.