PHILADELPHIA -- Fresh off his latest rehab start for Pawtucket, Daisuke Matsuzaka rejoined the Red Sox here to be examined by the training staff and prepare for the next step in his comeback effort.
Matsuzaka pitched 6 23 innings Thursday for Pawtucket against Durham, allowing seven hits and five runs (four of them earned) with three strikeouts.
"Last night's outing, overall, was an improvement over my previous starts,'' said Matsuzaka throug a club interpreter. "Rehab so far is going well.''
Manager Bobby Valentine said earlier this week that Matsuzaka was experimenting with some different release points and deliveries after his Tommy John surgery, attempting to find something with which he could work.
"(Thursday), I was able to figure out my mechanics to the point where I felt very comfortable out there,'' he said. "I was experimenting a lot during my previous start and I was able to figure out what was good and what was bad. The process for (Thursday) night was getting rid of all the bad stuff and keeping all the good.
"It turned out to be really good. I've got an arm angle that I was able to get through with most of my pitches, so, I'm at a good place right now.''
Matsuzaka said he "definintely is getting closer to making it back to the majors, but it really depends on the next start -- how I feel and the results.''
He added that he was pain- and symptom-free in his surgically-repaired elbow.
Valentine got game reports from Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler and pitching coach Rich Sauveur, who indicated that Matsuzaka's fastball command was improved, but his secondary pitches were less satisfactory.
"But it was an improvement,'' stressed Valentine.
The Sox must either activate Matsuzaka by May 27 -- the end of his 30-day rehab stint -- or prove that he's suffered some sort of physical setback, that requires a trip to the seven-day DL, followed by another rehab period.
"I really dislike calendars when good health has returned,'' said Valentine.