Dice-K, Capps ink Minor League deals with Tribe

Dice-K, Capps ink Minor League deals with Tribe

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians' goal of keeping Daisuke Matsuzaka and Matt Capps came to fruition Tuesday, when the club signed both pitchers to Minor League contracts. The right-handers will remain in Major League camp through Saturday.

Cleveland initially signed Matsuzaka and Capps to Minor League contracts this offseason, but released the pitchers earlier this week after informing them that they would not make the Opening Day roster. By releasing and re-signing the players, the Indians avoid paying them each a $100,000 retention bonus.

The Indians are hoping Matsuzaka in particular can help fortify the team's rotation depth.

"Dice-K, I tried to remind him of this yesterday," Indians manager Terry Francona said on Tuesday. "He's two years removed now from Tommy John. There's no reason he can't be the Dice-K that won 18 games. He just needs some repitition and some confidence, and he's got to remember who he is. I know when he used to take the ball and take the mound, he always felt like he was going to win. He needs to get that back."

Cleveland's rotation for the start of the season will include Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Zach McAllister and Scott Kazmir. Matsuzaka will join rotation candidates Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber at Triple-A Columbus.

Matsuzaka went a combined 33-15 with a 3.72 ERA in 61 outings between the 2007-08 seasons for the Red Sox, who were managed by Francona. Since that strong start, Matsuzaka has endured inconsistent results and injury. He has gone 17-22 with a 5.53 ERA over the past four seasons (296 innings) and underwent Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow in June 2011.

Capps, 29, has a wealth of late-inning experience in the Majors, but is coming off an injury-shortened season with Minnesota. In 30 games in 2012, the right-hander posted a 3.68 ERA with 14 saves, 18 strikeouts and only four walks in 29 1/3 innings. In the second half, however, Capps had two stints on the disabled list due to a right rotator cuff injury.

Over parts of eight seasons in the big leagues, Capps has posted a 3.52 ERA with 138 saves in 444 appearances between tours with the Pirates, Nationals and Twins. His best season came in 2010, when he posted a 2.47 ERA and saved 42 games in 74 combined outings for Washington and Minnesota.

"I'm glad. I was hoping that would happen," Francona said of re-signing Capps. "Matt Capps has continued to get better. He's been a really good professional reliever for a long time. I think the way the Spring Training progressed, we had him behind some guys. That doesn't mean he can't pitch in the big leagues. Selfishly, I'm glad he stayed with us."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.