Dice-K Joining Francona in Cleveland
FILE - In this July 21, 2012, file photo, Atlanta Braves center fielder Michael Bourn catches a ball off the bat of Washington Nationals' Roger Bernadina during the first inning of the second baseball game of a doubleheader in Washington. Bourn agreed to a four-year, $48 million contract with the Cleveland Indians on Monday, Feb. 11, 2013. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
Cleveland — With at least one spot open in his rotation, new Indians manager Terry Francona will give a pitcher he knows well a shot to win a starting job.
Japanese right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka has agreed to a minor-league contract with Cleveland. Matsuzaka, who pitched for Francona with the Boston Red Sox, must pass a physical for the deal to be finalized.
The Indians’ pitchers and catchers reported to camp in Goodyear, Ariz. on Sunday, with physicals scheduled to take place yesterday.
The 32-year-old Matsuzaka would get a $1.5 million, one-year contract if added to the 40-man roster and would be able to earn $2.5 million in performance bonuses based on innings and starts.
He has won 50 major league games since signing a $52 million, six-year contract with Boston as free agent in 2007. Dice-K went 33-15 with a 3.72 ERA in 61 starts for Boston in 2007-08. However, he has been limited to 18 starts and 83 innings the last two seasons after right elbow surgery in 2011.
Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez and Brett Myers are the only pitchers with guaranteed spots in Cleveland’s rotation. Zach McAllister comes to camp favored to win the No. 4 spot, leaving Matsuzaka in a group with Scott Kazmir, Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, Corey Kluber and David Huff fighting it out this spring.
Matsuzaka pitched in Japan from 1999-2006, going 108-60 with a 2.95 ERA for the Seibu Lions. The Red Sox won a bidding war over several teams to sign him and he went 15-12 in 32 starts in his first season in the AL.
He was dominant in 2008, going 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA and recording 154 strikeouts in 167 2-3 innings. He finished fourth in voting for the AL Cy Young Award.
But Matsuzaka’s numbers have dropped alarmingly in the past four years. He has gone 17-22 with a 5.53 ERA and underwent Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery in June 2011. He began last year in the minors before joining the Red Sox and going 1-7 with an 8.28 in 11 starts.
Tribe Adds OF Bourn
Cleveland — Criticized for not spending enough on free agents in recent years, the Indians splurged on another star.
The club agreed to terms yesterday with outfielder Michael Bourn on a four-year, $48 million contract. It’s the second major deal this winter for the Indians, who signed free agent Nick Swisher to a four-year, $56 million contract in January.
Bourn, who was an All-Star with Atlanta last season, must pass a physical later this week in Goodyear, Ariz., before the deal can be completed. Bourn batted .274 with nine homers, 57 RBIs and 42 steals last season for the Braves.
As long as there isn’t a hang-up, the 30-year-old Bourn, who has remained on the market all winter, will move into the Indians’ starting lineup. He played center field last season and would give an immediate boost to a Cleveland team that has reloaded with the acquisition of Nick Swisher, manager Terry Francona and starter Brett Myers.
Fox Sports first reported Bourn’s deal.
Bourn, a two-time All-Star, Gold Glove winner and three-time steals lead in the NL, had also been pursued by the New York Mets
Getting Bourn will cost the Indians picks in June’s amateur draft.
Angels’ Closer Has Sore Elbow
Tempe, Ariz. — Angels manager Mike Scioscia was not surprised closer Ryan Madson had elbow soreness in his rehabilitation from reconstructive surgery.
Madson, the team’s free-agent acquisition, who hasn’t pitched since 2011 said that he suffered a setback while throwing on Feb. 1.
Scioscia called the pain flare-up a part of the “normal rehab process” and that he expects Madsen to be pitching “at some point in April.”
“I think first and foremost (of importance) is Ryan getting through his rehab,” Scioscia said. “He’s obviously at the last stages of his rehab to where he’s on the mound throwing.
“Some days he’s going to move ahead. Sometimes rehabbing is up and down. We expect him at some point in April. ... He’s a guy that obviously is important to us. We have to error on the side of caution.”
Madson, who signed a one-year incentive-laden contract with the Angels, said he was disappointed, but expected to be ready by the season opener on April 1 in Cincinnati.
Madson, who had 32 saves for Philadelphia in 2011, also said that he has not thrown since the Feb. 1 session.
Source: Okajima Joining A’s
Phoenix — Free agent left-hander Hideki Okajima has agreed to a minor league contract with the Oakland Athletics, a person with knowledge of the negotiations said yesterday.
The deal is pending a physical, which could take place as soon as today. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team had not announced the agreement.
Okajima spent th e 2007-11 seasons with the Boston Red Sox, then signed a minor league deal with the New York Yankees and was released at the start of spring training when he failed a physical.
The 37-year-old was 1-0 with a 4.32 ERA in 8 1/3 innings over seven relief appearances for Boston in 2011 and 8-1 with a 2.29 ERA in 34 relief appearances with Triple-A Pawtucket. An All-Star as a rookie in 2007, he is 17-8 with a 3.11 ERA and six saves in five major league seasons.
Oakland manager Bob Melvin declined to discuss Okajima on Monday.
The San Francisco Chronicle first reported the pending contract.