Matsuzaka not wild about it

Walks mar a rehab start with Pawtucket

By Mike Scandura
Globe Correspondent / May 8, 2012
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PAWTUCKET, R.I. - Daisuke Matsuzaka wasn’t overly pleased with his rehab start Monday night for the Pawtucket Red Sox against the Rochester Red Wings.

Matsuzaka pitched 4 2/3 innings, allowing no runs and two hits. But even though he struck out four, he walked three and threw just 49 of 87 pitches for strikes.

“I had about four walks, and a lot of two-ball and three-ball counts which [elevated] my pitch count,’’ Matsuzaka said through interpreter Jeff Cutler. “I really wanted to throw at least five innings but it didn’t happen so I’m not really happy about that.’’

Matsuzaka underwent Tommy John surgery June 10.

He made his first rehab start April 23 for Single A Salem and allowed three runs on four hits over four innings.

Matsuzaka’s next start was April 28 for Double A Portland, during which he went 4 2/3 innings, allowing one run on three hits with no walks and seven strikeouts.

After a delay of a few days because of a minor neck injury, Monday night Matsuzaka topped out at 92 miles per hour on McCoy Stadium’s radar gun in the fifth inning.

But he expressed concern about his elbow.

“Overall, my body feels good, so that’s fine,’’ he said. “But my elbow, depending on the day, some days it feels better than others. Right now I’m just hoping that when I start it hits the day that I’m feeling good.

“Being ready in two more games is hard to say because it’s a step-by-step process. I’ll see how I pitch in my next outing and see how that goes and then we’ll see where I stand.’’

Matsuzaka indicated his next rehab start would be Saturday night when Pawtucket hosts Columbus.

In his final inning, Matsuzaka caught Pedro Florimon and J.R. Towles looking at a third strike. But Darin Mastroianni then cracked a double off the fence in left-center and Ben Revere walked.

That prompted manager Arnie Beyeler to remove Matsuzaka in favor of Alex Wilson, who got Sean Burroughs on a groundout.

Matsuzaka got out of jams in three of the first four innings.

Rochester had runners on first and second with two outs in the first (one reached on an error) when Matsuzaka induced Rene Tosoni to foul to third.

In the second, with a Red Wing on second and two out, Matsuzaka got Towles to wave at a third strike.

With a runner on second and two outs in the fourth Matsuzaka retired Clete Thomas on a fly to center.

Matsuzaka didn’t believe the layoff between his start at Portland and his outing Monday night had a negative effect.

“I don’t think it really affected how I pitched tonight,’’ he said. “I expect to be on schedule for my next start. But I still need work. It’s not perfect yet. I’ll be making minor adjustments as I go along.

“Tonight, I didn’t discuss with the catcher [Ryan Lavarnway] what kind of pitches I wanted to work on. But I threw a lot of two-seam fastballs, and it ended up being a good practice for that pitch.’’

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