Dice-K has a mound date
Right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka will throw his first full-fledged side session of camp on Friday morning. Dice-K, who had a minor back issue earlier in camp that forced his delayed program, played long toss again on Wednesday morning, and finished by throwing some pitches off the mound, with the catcher standing up.
”Dice-K had a real good day and he’ll have a side on Friday,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “[Wednesday] was the same as last time. Catcher didn’t get down yet but it’s a way of progressing. Once you get out there to 180, 190 feet and you’re fully loose, then you get on the mound and create that angle, but not as much as when you have the catcher down. He’ll go right to the bullpen Friday.”
The Red Sox are confident Matsuzaka is completely over the injury.
“I think he’s done it the right way,” Francona said. “There’s no way you can get out and throw as far as he has [and not be healthy], that’s hard to do. It’s impressive, actually. He’s ready to go. He’s ready to go. The timing, I think we did it right.”
In other nuts and bolts-type news:
Casey Kelly’s first game action in a Red Sox uniform was productive and brief. He threw 10 pitches, seven of them strikes, in setting Northeastern down 1-2-3.
“I don’t think I’ve stopped smiling since I got off the mound,” said Kelly. “It was a good first outing. To have the crowd, and some of the people behind me playing defense behind me was a tremendous honor.”
Center fielder Mike Cameron, bothered by minor tightness in his left groin this week, will likely take his first “game swings” in a Sox uniform in Friday’s game against the Twins. J.D. Drew is expected to make his spring debut that day also, serving as the DH.
Francona said that nothing is wrong with Drew physically.
“I think I’m probably slowing him down,” Francona said. “He stayed indoors a day and a half.
I just don’t think it makes sense to rush him. I think I’ve been around him long enough that I think I know what works for him, and that’s why we have spring training. I don’t think it’s a huge big deal that we run our everyday lineup out there today or tomorrow.”
Though there aren’t many positional battles in camp, one to watch is for the final slot(s) in the bullpen. Right-hander Joe Nelson and lefty Brian Shouse are two veteran contenders who are in the running. It is a fine line because the Red Sox have never been big on evaluating specific results from Spring Training games.
“It’s not easy,” Francona said. “It’s really not. That’s why, as we get into this, we watch how they’re throwing the ball. You can make some mistakes. Shouse is a good example. If he goes through a day where a couple of righties take him over the palm trees, that doesn’t mean he can’t help your team. We try to make good decisions on what can help your ballclub.”
Mike Lowell continues to get closer to game action, though no official date has been set.
“Mikey was already in the cage. He’s going to take BP again today,” Francona said. “He actually, [hitting coach Dave Magadan] made a comment that he looked pretty good – the ball was coming off his bat pretty good. I think Mikey was happy about it.”