FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After four years with the Red Sox, some of the novelty surrounding Daisuke Matsuzaka has worn off, and with it, the ever-present media attention.
And that, Matsuzaka says, is just fine. The more Matsuzaka can be just a pitcher and not an international icon or curiousity piece, the happier he'll be.
"Every year, I feel more accustomed to playing Major League Baseball,'' said Matsuzaka. "I prefer less attention.''
Reflecting on his first four years with the Red Sox, Matsuzaka said they have "been good and bad. Good times and bad experiences as well. I'd like to use the four years' experience to produce a better performance this year.
In some ways, this will be a season of transition for Matsuzaka. John Farrell, the only pitching coach Matsuzaka has worked with since coming to the Sox, left to manage the Toronto Blue Jays, replaced by former Oakland A's pitching coach Curt Young.
"There are no major changes when new coaches arrive,'' Matsuzaka said. "I like to communicate with Curt Young. He tries to understand situations and we'll go from there.''
He'll also be working (mostly) with a new batterymate, as Jarrod Saltalamacchia takes over as the primary catcher, replacing Victor Martinez, with whom Matsuzaka occasionally clashed.
"I feel comfortable throwing to Saltalamacchia, certainly,'' said Matsuzaka. "His catching style is very close to Japanese catchers.''
After winning 33 games in his first two seasons in the big leagues, Matsuzaka won just 13 in 2009 and 2010 combined, chiefly because of a series of nagging injuries which limited him.
"In the past two years, I wasn't 100 percent confident about my physical condition,'' Matsuzaka said. "However, this camp, I feel very good.''
Matsuzaka conceded that the littany of injuries -- including shoulder issues, lat pulls and back soreness -- have been frustrating.
"But it's a past thing,'' he said, "so I'm not really focused on past injuries. I want to move on.''