Matsuzaka surgery set

Procedure will be done next week

By Michael Vega
Globe Staff / June 4, 2011

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Daisuke Matsuzaka arrived at Fenway Park yesterday and tried to go about his business as usual.

He stretched on the field. Then he played catch with interpreter Kenta Yamada, tossing the ball softly. When the Red Sox took batting practice, Matsuzaka stood out in center field — by himself — and shagged flies, gingerly tossing the balls back to a collection point behind second base.

Nothing strenuous. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Although he faces season-ending Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, Matsuzaka comported himself before last night’s game against the Oakland A’s as though everything was status quo, when the truth was it was anything but. On Thursday, the team’s offday, Matsuzaka met with manager Terry Francona and members of the team’s front office and medical staff at Fenway to discuss the second opinion he received in Los Angeles last week from Dr. Lewis Yocum.

Matsuzaka had yet to disclose his next course of action, declining interview requests before last night’s game. But Francona told reporters, “It’s looking more and more like he needs to have the surgery.’’

After the game, Francona said Matsuzaka will have the surgery next week, to be performed by Yocum.

Matsuzaka, 30, was placed on the 15-day disabled list May 18 with a right elbow sprain. He is 3-3 with a 5.30 ERA in seven starts and one relief appearance.

He was transferred to the 60-day disabled list yesterday to make room on the 40-man roster for lefthanded reliever Tommy Hottovy, who was called up from Triple A Pawtucket. Hottovy fills the void left when lefthander Rich Hill injured his forearm in Wednesday’s loss to the White Sox.

Like Matsuzaka, Hill is facing the prospect of Tommy John surgery after he indicated yesterday an MRI “showed three-fourths of the [ulnar collateral] ligament was torn.’’ Hill will seek a second opinion.

When Matsuzaka underwent his MRI, the Red Sox were hopeful that a non-invasive approach could be taken. Although there were reports Matsuzaka was going to require Tommy John surgery, Francona flatly shot down those reports.

Asked yesterday what had changed from the time Matsuzaka underwent his MRI to yesterday, when it appeared all but inevitable Matsuzaka would require surgery, Francona said, “I don’t know that a whole lot changed in the diagnostic stuff. I just think any time something like this happens, you don’t rush into surgery.’’

Francona said Matsuzaka underwent a platelet-rich plasma injection in the hopes it would help ward off surgery. PRP therapy has been known to help strengthen and thicken tissue up to 40 percent, in some cases.

In Matsuzaka’s case, however, it didn’t seem to produce the desired result.

“They did the PRP and they waited the two weeks to see Dr. Yocum, so the PRP wouldn’t get in the way,’’ Francona said. “We tried to do it [the] appropriate [way], and I think we did. Again, Dr. Yocum has a lot of experience in this area and it seems like from talking to him and Dr. Gill that this is probably what needs to happen.’’

Typically, the recovery period for such a procedure is 12-18 months. Francona, though, would not speculate on the timetable.

“It takes a little bit more to come back as a starter,’’ Francona said. “Saying that, he’s very driven to come back and help us next year. So, I think he’s going to take this upon himself, be kind of competitive, like he was pitching, and attack the rehab when it comes next year.

“He was really good [Thursday]. Really proud of him the way he talked and the way he handled it, he’s going to do the best he can.’’

Michael Vega can be reached at

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