GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Daisuke Matsuzaka believes he can be the Dice-K of old, the one who mystified hitters with his unorthodox delivery and arsenal of deceptive pitches.
The Indians just need him to a dependable fifth starter.
Matsuzaka, nearly two years removed from Tommy John elbow surgery, pitched two hitless innings in blustery conditions and seven Cleveland pitchers combined on a one-hitter, leading an Indians split squad to a 3-0 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday.
Once a $100 million curiosity in Boston, Matsuzaka was limited to just 11 starts last season for the Red Sox, who parted ways with the 32-year-old after six seasons. With at least one spot open in their rotation, the Indians signed the Japanese right-hander on Feb. 13 to a minor league contract and will pay him $1.5 million if he's added to the 40-man roster this spring.
Scouts sitting behind home plate with radar guns said Matsuzaka's fastball topped out at 89 mph, but he's not worried about his speed this early in camp.
Matsuzaka went just 1-7 with 8.28 ERA last season for the Red Sox, but the Indians are hoping he can get somewhere close to being the pitcher who won 33 games in his first two seasons in the majors.
Cleveland's starters had the AL's second-highest ERA (5.25) last season and Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez, the respective Nos. 1 and 2 arms, went a combined 20-32 with a 5.15 ERA. The club signed Brett Myers, who pitched in relief last season, to be their No. 3 starter with Zach McAllister the frontrunner for the fourth spot.
Matsuzaka is among a group battling for the fifth spot that includes Scott Kazmir, Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, David Huff, and Corey Kluber.
NOTES: With Indians manager Terry Francona in Maryvale watching Carrasco, Kazmir and Bauer, Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar managed the team in Goodyear. ... The split squad team beat the Milwaukee Brewers 7-4. Carlos Santana and Ezequiel Carrera each homered.
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