PORTLAND, Maine Daisuke Matsuzaka made his second rehab start Saturday afternoon, this time for Double-A Portland. He went 4 23 innings, giving up one run on three hits and two walks with seven strikeouts, as the Sea Dogs beat the Reading Phillies, 9-1.
Despite the afternoon chill 46 degrees with a 10-mph wind at first pitch Matsuzaka pitched in short sleeves, wanting to test himself in the cold. He threw 74 pitches, 44 for strikes, with first-pitch strikes to seven of the 17 batters he faced.
I saw him Monday in Salem and I thought today -- I dont have the final numbers on the gun reading -- but I thought his fastball had better finish, he had better angle on his pitches today, said Ralph Treuel, the Sox minor league pitching coordinator.
It was good on Monday but today was better.
In his first outing, April 28 for High-A Salem, Matsuzaka appeared to be shaking off some rust, as he gave up three runs and two home runs in four innings. He is satisfied with the progression he is making.
Im progressing well as I was able to do things that I wasnt able to do in my previous start, he said. But there are a lot of areas that I still need to work on and thats going to be my focus for my upcoming starts.
Ive been away from pitching for a while so its figuring things out within the game that I need to work on the most such as just the flow of the game, the momentum of the game, my form, and those are the areas that Ill be continuing to focus on as I pitch.
It was just his second start since he went 4 13 innings May 16, giving up five runs and seven walks, one shy of his career high, against the Orioles. He was placed on the disabled list the next day and underwent Tommy John surgery on June 10. He is still getting used to his post-surgery body, he said.
I think thats common, Treuel said. Hes missed 11 months, too. So it takes a while to get back into a routine. Its one thing pitching in extended spring training and its another thing coming out and facing hitters with fans in the stands, and there were a lot more here today than there were in Salem on Monday.
Indeed, it was a sellout, the first of the season for the 7-16 Sea Dogs.
Matsuzaka, who is in the final season of his six-year, 52 million contract, threw all his pitches, and was satisfied with his velocity, which topped out at 93 mph, according to the Hadlock Field radar gun.
But thats not his focus right now.
Im not worried about those things at the moment, he said. Im not really too worried about my velocity or how my breaking, off-speed pitches are at the moment. There are other areas that need work before I need to worry about those areas.
Thats exactly what it is, Treuel said. You got to count the last two as real games because down in extended its really just getting a feel for going out and finishing an inning, finishing a hitter off. Now I think the juices are starting to flow a little more.
Matsuzaka was expected to throw about 70 pitches, up from the 57 he threw in his first outing. After he walked Phillies No. 8 hitter Steve Lerud with two outs in the fifth on his 74th pitch, Sea Dogs manager Kevin Boles went to the mound.
I didnt feel any fatigue out there today, Matsuzaka said. When the manager came out I knew what it meant, but my body felt fine. I thought I could finish the inning, and if it werent a rehab start, I know I would have been able to finish the inning.
Matsuzaka is expected to make three more starts in his 30-day rehab assignment. His next start is scheduled for Thursday, with either Portland or Triple-A Pawtucket. The Sea Dogs host Trenton (Yankees) that day, while the PawSox are in Toledo (Tigers).