Valentine: Matsuzaka won't be ready after Pawtucket starts

Valentine: Matsuzaka won't be ready after Pawtucket starts
May 16, 2012, 10:28 pm
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Daisuke Matsuzaka has two more starts scheduled as part of his current 30-day rehab stint, but according to manager Bobby Valentine, Matsuzaka doesn't appear that he'll be ready to join the big league team when those starts are completed.

Matsuzaka underwent Tommy John surgery last summer and continues to work on his delivery. He's scheduled to pitch for Pawtucket Thursday and again on May 22.

"I don't think he's all that close to pitching in the major league," said Valentine. "Not until he's ready. It's not the calendar that's going to dictate whether or not a guy pitches in the major leagues."

The Sox have the option of putting Matsuzaka back on the disabled list and then beginning a new rehab assignment if they don't feel he's ready to compete in the big leagues.

"You can't say, 'Hey, the 30-day clock is done,' now the guy has to get into a major league game and get whacked," said Valentine. "That doesn't sound right to me."

Valentine, who speaks Japanese from his time spent managing in Japan, has had several discussions with Matsuzaka and gets the sense that the pitcher is still working on how to best master his mechanics in the wake of his surgery.

"There's a lot of things that you do before you're totally ready," Valentine said. "I'm not sure he's put his elbow situation behind him yet. I don't think he totally understands where he is with his elbow, which is very important.

"It's not necessarily (being) tentative with the elbow. It's understanding why (the injury) happened, what he did to pitch while it was hurt and that mechanic and whether or not that mechanic is something he should be using now. Or should he go back to the mechanic he was using when he hurt (the elbow)?

"It's a very confusing state. Until he figures that out -- totally in his mind -- I think competition is going to be confused. We want him to be here and not only healthy, but be able to be in competition."

In a recent outing, Matsuzaka's fastball topped out at 91 mph, but that was because he's experimenting with different deliveries.

"I think he can throw harder," said Valentine. "And he has. A couple of early starts, he was throwing hard. But the last start, his velocity wasn't there because he spent a lot of time with this dilemma, which (throwing) mechanic (to use), just trying to figure it out."

Valentine said the process is not unlike what reliever Rich Hill went through when he had the same surgery last June.

"Pitchers come to that place at different times," said Valentine.