Results tagged ‘ Daisuke Matsuzaka ’

Knuckling back in

Good news on the injury front today. Tim Wakefield will pitch on the road at Gwinnett County for Triple-A Pawtucket. He should come back into the rotation right after that, meaning he could start as early as Aug. 20 at Toronto, or perhaps at home against the Yankees over the weekend.

Dice-K also took a positive step today, throwing his first bullpen since going on the DL. Matsuzaka will throw again on Friday, and then on Monday, and presumably start facing hitters after that.

Mike Lowell is not in tonight’s lineup, as he is the odd man out a second night in a row.

What to do about Dice-K?

The Red Sox are in an extremely tricky spot here, as Dice-K got rocked yet again tonight. Now what do they do?

Smoltz is already slotted in to take Matsuzaka’s normal day, which is Thursday at Washington. Do you skip Matszuaka altogether for one turn in the rotation? Do you put him in the bullpen for a couple of weeks? Do you somehow convince him to waive his no Minor Leagues clause and go down to Triple-A so he can put himself back together?

This is one of the most delicate situations the Red Sox have had during the Terry Francona/Theo Epstein regime. How do they finesse this?

Obviously the organization has made a $103.1 million investment in this man. Though the results weren’t pretty, Matsuzaka seemed like a pretty good investment those first two years.

This season? They can’t even get a decent start out of him. Matsuzaka is now 0-for-8 in the quality starts department.

Rotation should align by Tuesday

The intrigue continues with the starting rotation, as manager Terry Francona said the Red Sox would get through Sunday’s game and then utilize Monday’s off-day to determine exactly how to get John Smoltz into the mix.

Smoltz said on Saturday one more abbreviated turn in the Minor Leagues was not out of the question. But Francona is clearly keeping all options open.

“We talked to Smoltzy last night,” Francona said. “We just want to get through the off-day and then we’ll … I think we can lay out the whole week. We just want to get through the off-day. Part of it is, we just don’t know how we’re going to get through today. We’ve got Wake again out in the bullpen as a reserve. We don’t want to use him, but we just want to protect ourselves. Until we get through it without using him, there’s no sense saying it and then undoing it.

“We’ll get through today and we’ll kind of map it out. We have mapped out various possibilities. There’s no sense in [doing it ahead of time], especially when it’s going to require a roster move. Those things come at their own pace.”

Wakefield, assuming the Red Sox don’t need him Sunday, will start Tuesday. Brad Penny is lined up for Wednesday, with Jon Lester likely on Thursday. That brings us to Friday, Daisuke Matsuzaka’s next scheduled turn.

Could it be time for Dice-K to take a little break to work out what ails him? Matsuzaka hasn’t gone as many as six innings in any of his seven starts. The overall numbers show a 7.50 ERA and an astounding 51 hits allowed in 31 innings by Matsuzaka. Opponents are hitting .372 against him.

“We’ve been pretty honest in our evaluations of him,” said Francona. “Like when people ask me, ‘What do you think of Dice-K?’ and I’d say ‘well he walked the bases loaded but got himself out of it. We’re not real comfortable with the first part of it but we’re happy with the second part.'”

“You try to get him to pound the zone and a couple of times that he really has, he’s left the ball in the middle,” Francona said. “We’re kind of trying to walk the line of being aggressive and getting him out of his game. There’s constant dialogue back and forth so we can get this as good as we can. It’s still a work in progress. It’s sometimes hard to figure. He can go out there for an inning and look unhittable and go out and it’s inconsistent, I guess is the word. He gave up some hard-hit balls yesterday in the third and fourth inning. Then he can turn around another inning and hits his spots and throws that changeup. I’ll tell you one thing, the cutter has power. It didn’t earlier in the year. He’s starting to get some power behind that cutter, which will really help.”

For those who wonder if Matsuzaka is having health problems, the righty emphatically stated Saturday night that is not the case.

“I feel fine,” Matsuzaka said. “I don’t have any problems with my shoulder or elbow and I think that makes it all the more irritating for me right now and I’d say that’s where my stress is coming from right now, even though I feel good.”

Drew leading off; Youk, Ellsbury not playing

Definitely a different Red Sox lineup tonight as they open a five-game homestand at Fenway. J.D. Drew is leading off, Jason Varitek hitting sixth, Jeff Bailey batting seventh, Jonathan Van Every eighth and Nick Green ninth.

Jacoby Ellsbury, who injured his right hamstring last night, should return to the mix tomorrow night. Manager Terry Francona seemed a little more iffy on when Kevin Youkilis might be back.

Rocco Baldelli is here at Fenway, but won’t be activated tonight. He was scheduled to have today off. There will be a decision on Rocco tomorrow.

Jed Lowrie was back with the team today for the first time since his surgery. His rehab is right on schedule. He should start swinging a bat in early June.

The team is in the process of deciding where Dice-K’s next rehab start will be. The choice is either for Pawtucket at Columbus, or home for Portland. If I was in Matsuzaka’s shoes, I’d beg for Portland so I could have the best lobster imaginable.

John Smoltz re-started his throwing program on the Fenway lawn, playing catch at a distance of 60 feet.

All for now.

Dice done

The Red Sox’s worst fears are being realized. Daisuke Matsuzaka, after pitching Japan to the World Baseball Classic championship, has come back not looking anything like the guy who finished fourth in last year’s Cy Young Award voting.

Matsuzaka labored against Tampa Bay last week, and much more tonight in Oakland, when he fired one 43-pitch inning (22 strikes) before having the ball taken away from him by manager Terry Francona. To be frank, Matsuzaka appeared to have nothing out there.

Out of the 43 pitches Matsuzaka pitched, only five were in the 90s. He topped out at 91.

Dice-K left the game with what was described as “arm fatigue”.

He gave up five hits, five runs and walked two, throwing 43 pitches. He walked two and struck out nobody, only getting two swings and misses.

Dice-K checks back in — sort of

Daisuke Matsuzaka made his way to City of Palms Park today for the first time this spring, but it was on an off-day for the team. Matsuzaka, back from another successful stint at the World Baseball Classic, had his requisite physical that the rest of the pitchers went through on reporting day.

Matsuzaka threw on flat-ground in preparation for what is expected to be about a 50-pitch side session, after which the righty will speak to the Boston media for the first time since the end of 2008.

According to pitching coach John Farrell, Matsuzaka will throw about five innings against the Braves in DisneyWorld on Monday. No word yet if Mickey Mouse will be in attendance.

Otherwise, a quiet day. Justin Masterson reeled off 4 2/3 innings in a Minor League start and Rocco Baldelli got a bunch of at-bats in that same game.

Home game against the Cardinals on Friday, with Beckett on the hill.

Dice-K is 1-0 — 4-0 lifetime in the Classic

No, I did not wake up to watch Dice-K pitch against Korea either, but I got a full recap of e-mails from my friend Jonny Miller of WBZ Radio. Jonny is, how shall we say, an early riser.

Jon’s first e-mail came to me at 5:44 a.m. “First inning, gave up 455-foot homer to Kim.” … 30 pitches, end of 1, 3-2 Japan.

Jonny fired off another one at 6:16 a.m. “DIce-K update, second inning, one hit, 14 pitches, end of 2, Japan 8, Korea 2.”

Jonny strikes again at 6:32 a.m. “1 BB, 14 pitches, Japan 9, Korea 2 after three.”

Last Jonny update came at 7:15 a.m. “Dice-K done after 4. Japan 11, Korea 2, Mid five”.

At any rate, Matsuzaka and Japan cruised to a mercy rule victory. Matsuzaka wasn’t particularly sharp, but keep in mind he has never been a fast starter in his career.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona — who always awakens early this time of year — saw most of the outing (four innings, four hits, two runs, two walks, one strikeout) on television.I think all Tito really wants to see from Dice-K out of this tournament is a healthy finish to it.

“I watched most of that,” Francona said. “ A little shaky first inning, 29-pitch first
inning. Gave up some hard hits in the second, but they had a baserunning error,
then he settled down and got the last eight of nine. It was OK. It’s Spring
Training and you don’t have the luxury of missing your spots because the game
is on television.”

In other news, Mike Lowell is expected to make his exhibition debut on Tuesday, as the DH against the Orioles. He will proably play at third for the first time in the night game against the Yankees on Friday the 13th.

Brad Penny will fire off a 35-pitch side at City of Palms tomorrow. No word yet on his first game.

Dice-K at Dawn

Who are the truest baseball junkies out there? The correct answer is those of you who will set your alarm clocks so you can watch Daisuke Matsuzaka face Korea at 5 a.m. ET on Saturday. This World Baseball Classic encounter from Tokyo will be televised on ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and yes, MLB.TV.

Under tournament rules, Matsuzaka is permitted to throw 70 pitches in his first-round start.

Those of you who need a Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and Jason Bay fix can check out Team USA vs. Canada at 2 p.m. on Saturday on ESPN. And Big Papi David Ortiz will be representing the Domincan Republic in an 11 a.m. encounter (ESPN 2) against the Netherlands.

Things are much quieter here in Fort Myers, where a home game Spring Training lineup features Josh Reddick, Jeff Bailey, Zach Daeges, Chip Ambres and Ivan Ochoa.

Ace Josh Beckett is nearing the completion of a three-inning outing. Jed Lowrie and Jacoby Ellsbury will make the trip to Port Charlotte tomorrow — “You’ll see those guys on every trip,” quipped Red Sox manager Terry Francona.

With the Marlins in town today, Alex Speier of used the timing element to write a nice blog entry on how close Manny Ramirez came to being a Marlin. Imagine how that could have changed the course of events? Would Manny still have wound up with the Dodgers this year? Would Manny have even approved a trade to the Marlins?

By the way, how utterly perplexing was Manny’s comment at the presser yesterday: “Sometimes you’re better off to have a two-year deal in a place that
you’re going to be happy than have an eight-year deal in a place that
you’re going to, you know, suffer.”

Suffer? Really? Did Manny suffer while winning two World Series? Did he suffer while earning $160 million in Red Sox dollars? Did he suffer while getting the trophy as World Series MVP in 2004? Did he suffer as fans adored him unconditionally for eight years, many of them who would write e-mails to every sportswriter who had the audacity to dare criticize Manny for one of his indiscretions? Did he suffer while teaming with David Ortiz to form one of the most dynamic 3-4 punches of this generation?

Suffer?!? If Manny ever plays at Fenway again, he will probably be greeted with the loudest round of boos in Red Sox history.

I will say one thing though. I did not “suffer” covering Manny during his time in Boston. He is the best pure hitter I’ve ever seen, and was always amusing to observe and, even when he allowed, to interact with.