BOSTON On Saturday, Daisuke Matsuzaka will make his first major league start in more than a year, one day shy of exactly one year since he had Tommy John surgery.Matsuzaka will be starting in place of Daniel Bard, whose struggles in the rotation earned him a trip to Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday.He was in today. Says he feels fine, said manager Bobby Valentine before Wednesdays game against the Orioles. Hell be, unless something changes, well try to activate him, pitch him on Saturday. Obviously, well wait till that date comes around.Matsuzakas last major league start was May 16, 2011, against the Orioles. He went 4 13 innings, giving up five runs on five hits and seven walks with two strikeouts. He was placed on the disabled list the next day (retroactively) and underwent surgery on June 10.He made the last of his eight rehab starts over two rehab stints Tuesday night, going 1 13 innings with Pawtucket against Indianapolis. He gave up one run on three hits with two walks and two strikeouts.In all, he threw 28 13 innings with High-A Salem, Double-A Portland, and Pawtucket, posting a record of 0-2 with a 3.49 ERA. He gave up 12 runs, 11 earned, on 22 hits, with seven walks, 20 strikeouts, and five home runs. He has an opponents average of .214, a 1.081 walks-and-hits-per-nine innings ratio, 7.5 hits-per-nine innings, 2.2 walks-per-nine-innings, 7.3 strikeouts-per-nine, and 3.33 strikeouts-per-walks.Matsuzaka was on two separate 30-day rehab assignments. He was pulled back from the first one when he developed an issue in his right trapezoid muscle. He has made two starts since then, on his second assignment.It all kind of smoothed out, Valentine said. There was a little doubt about his elbow even. And it was one of those wake-up days and just felt it was a thing of the past and thats what we needed.But with a starting pitcher whos been away from a major league mound for so long, its difficult for Valentine to know what to expect for Saturday.Well, I dont think it will be an inning, but, Valentine said, as he knocked on wood, you never know. Hes competitive. Hes competitive. Hes ready to pitch. Hes thrown as many as 93 pitches in the rehab. His arm feels good, his bodys good shape. So, theres some length there.Valentine has said hed like Matsuzaka to once again resemble the pitcher he saw in Japan.Oh, I might have said that during the winter, Valentine said. Thatd be nice, but he hasnt had a time to really fine-tune all the pitches. I remember him as multi-pitcher guy. I havent seen that. You know what I have seen, a changeup in a couple games that resembled something I remembered. But I dont think its ready for home use.He had pitches that moved at different speeds and directions.Prior to the problem with the trap muscle, Matsuzaka had been having trouble finding a consistent arm angle. Valentine is confident the right-hander has resolved that issue.Yeah. Part of that, yknow that search, is he was kind of trying to replicate the pain, Valentine said. He was trying to do things that might be abnormal to see in fact if his elbow would hold up. Its kind of a test and I think hes over that.
At the very least, the Sox will have to finish the homestand without Hanley Ramirez. That's if they're lucky. If he's lost to them for any extended period, the season could be lost, too.