Cleveland Indians Continue Terry Francona Reunion Tour With Daisuke Matsuzaka

By Thom Tsang
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Manager Terry Francona might be with a new team these days, but it seems that the Cleveland Indians are hoping that he can rekindle some of the magic with players from his former squads.

There’s infielder Mike Aviles, who was recently signed to a two-year contract after being acquired earlier in the off-season. He’ll soon by joined by former Boston Red Sox teammate Daisuke Matsuzaka, who has agreed to a minor league deal with Cleveland that could see the Scott Boras client make considerably more money:

Not that he’ll have an easy time trying to earn that money, of course. The 32-year old Matsuzaka is on the heels of what was essentially a pair of lost seasons due to Tommy John surgery, having come back from the procedure in the middle of 2012, but pitching to disastrous results (8.28 ERA in 11 starts).

Still, there were signs to hope for. Dice-K regained a bit of velocity (average FB at 90.7 mph, compared to 90.0 in 2011), and his 2.05 K/BB suggests that the process of recovery to full strength could be coming along.

That optimism has seen Matsuzaka linked to a potential minor league deal with the New York Mets just about a week ago, but it seems that the free agent may have been more comfortable with the idea of playing for the manager that he won a World Series with in his first MLB season.

To regain a starting job with the Indians, the gyroball pitcher will have to outshine some young guns for a rotation spot, including Carlos Carrasco, who made a career-high 21 starts in 2012, and top prospect Trevor Bauer, who will be gunning to make an immediate impact after being traded from the Arizona Diamondbacks.

There’s also fellow reclamation project Scott Kazmir, who could be a wild card should he rediscover the velocity that once helped him be one of the best lefties in the game.

It’s another low-risk, high-reward move for the Indians, who seem to be digging pretty hard these days to find that potential Comeback Player of the Year in 2013.

Dice-K failed in his first attempt after coming off surgery, but perhaps being reunited with Francona will make him more successful the second time around.

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