By Maureen Mullen
FORT MYERS, Fla. He was just working on something. The results were not concerning. After focusing on his fastball in his first outing, Daisuke Matsuzaka wanted to concentrate more on his cutter and his off-speed pitches. His pitching line was secondary to the work he was doing.
Its always ideal to get both results and what I want to do. At the same time, this time it wasnt going that way. Personally, I dont care about the results today because I was doing something I wanted to do, Matsuzaka said through a team interpreter.
I had different homework from last time to today. I went to what I wanted to do and there was good and bad. Doing homework, the stuff I wanted to improve on, was pretty much done the last two outings. From the next time, Im going to approach it as the regular season.
Still he could not have been pleased by his results, getting roughed up by the Marlins over three innings, as the Red Sox lost, 11-2, at City of Palms Park. He gave up seven runs (five earned) on six hits, including a Dewayne Wise second-inning two-run homer, and two walks with one strikeout. He faced 17 batters, throwing 55 pitches, 33 for strikes. In the first inning, he faced seven batters, giving up three runs.
Matsuzaka said there was good and bad in his outing.
Its not about good and bad on the kind of pitches, he said. Its about how you approach for each kind of pitch I wanted to throw. I tried to find out what is the best delivery form for the cutter or whats the best for the changeup. Thats what I was trying to do.
He got ahead OK, but he certainly didn't put anybody away and he got deep counts, Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. He wanted to throw some cutters today -- which he did and changeups, a couple of good ones. A couple of breaking balls he left up, one to Wise that he wanted to wrap around his ankle and he leaves it over the plate. Wise hits it a long way. We struggled to get out of the first inning, don't get an out, and those are the things you hope happen in spring training and not during the season. It gives us something to talk to him about.
Matsuzaka has been battling a virus in his right eye for the past few days.
It still bothers me, he said. But it will be OK for next time. I was taking medicine and it was working. So it wasnt bothering me too much.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia caught Matsuzaka in a game for the first time this spring.
He threw well, changeups, fastballs, what he wanted to work on, Saltalamacchia said. We were doing changeups and cutters. Biggest thing for him is just throwing strikes early, getting them to swing the bat, and with his stuff, theres no reason why he cant do that. But, I think he was working on something there and I think he accomplished it.
Saltalamacchia has been working on his communication with Matsuzaka. Hes caught several bullpen sessions with him, and before the game he sat with the pitcher and his interpreter, in the clubhouse in front of Matsuzakas locker.
Its been fine, Saltalamacchia said. He understands and he knows what hes got to do. Its not his first time up.
Francona said he would like to see Matsuzaka, as well as all his pitchers, pounding the strike zone at this point in the spring.
If you throw strikes, generally you're going to probably do OK, Francona said. The work ahead really changes the game and that's with all our pitchers: getting them to work quick, throw strikes, and keep the ball down.
Matsuzaka said he would treat his next outing like a regular season game. That should be taken to mean his line will be just as important as his work on the mound. He is also planning to adjust his approach this season.
Ill definitely be more aggressive in pounding the strike zone, he said. I want to use different pitches inside the strike zone to be effective in my performance. Im going to try to keep the balls in the strike zone to be effective.
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen