Matsuzaka happy after first spring training outing

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Matsuzaka happy after first spring training outing

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. In his first four seasons with the Red Sox, Daisuke Matsuzaka has posted a record of 46-27 with a 4.18 ERA. Although he is 19 games above .500, most of that can be attributed to his 2008 season, when he went 18-3 (2.90). Take that season away and his record is 28-24, with a 4.70 ERA.

While those numbers might not be awful, they are closer to what might be expected from a No. 5 starter than certainly from a top-of-the rotation arm, which is how he was billed before his inaugural 2007 season. Other numbers that are just as concerning 144 games over the last two seasons for which he has been on the disabled list.

After his first Grapefruit League outing, Monday against the Twins at City of Palms Park, Matsuzaka acknowledged as much.

In the past two years the condition, the overall condition was not excellent and was not to the point where I needed to be, Matsuzaka said through interpreter Kenta Yamada. So this year my goal will be to in better shape and be on the mound throughout the whole year during the regular season.

Matsuzaka, who appears to be slimmer this spring, is entering the fifth year of a six-year contract that will pay him 20 million over the next two seasons. He has no worries, he said, about his overall condition. In the offseason he worked on strengthening his legs to help him maintain his condition throughout the season.

His goal for the season, he said, is to be a part of the rotation. Its important for him, he said, to be able to compete at the same level as the other starters.

At this stage theres no promise to be a part of the rotation, he said. So, in order to solidify to the rotation I like to keep the good health, healthy conditions, and then show the good result during the spring season.

Working with catcher Jason Varitek on Monday, Matsuzaka went two innings, giving up one run on a Jason Kubel solo homer, with a walk and a strikeout on 25 pitches (14 strikes). He had two outs and a 3-and-2 count when Kubel blasted a shot of the screen in center field. Matsuzaka said he is trying to incorporate a cutter into his repertoire more.

As its the first outing of the spring season, the fastball is running pretty well, Matsuzaka said. Thats something Im very confident with. Overall, I think I did a very good job as a first outing.

The command of the fastball was very good . . . The cutter was not as good as I expected. So I will take a step to fix it during this spring season.

Manager Terry Francona was pleased with what he saw.

Very good velocity. That was exciting to see that, especially early on, he said. Very aggressive with his fastball. Had some good life to it. I was excited about that.

He threw the ball fine, said one scout in attendance. Good tempo with his delivery and went right at the hitters. He was aggressive and looked confident.

At this point in the spring, Francona is looking for simple things from his pitchers: building arm strength and pounding the strike zone.

The expectations for Matsuzaka will be much higher during the season.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

Red Sox will re-assess Rodriguez's progress after rehab start

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Red Sox will re-assess Rodriguez's progress after rehab start

CHICAGO -- Eduardo Rodriguez's return to the Red Sox rotation is going to take a little while longer.

Rodriguez will make at least one more rehab start for Pawtucket Sunday before the Red Sox re-assess his progress.

There had been some thought that Rodriguez would need only two outings on his rehab assignment. But the decision was made Wednesday to give him at least one more.

Rodriguez had a good outing for Pawtucket Tuesday night, allowing three runs on five hits in six innings of work.

All three runs came in the first inning, after which he showed improvement. "From the second to the sixth innings,'' said Farrell, "they were probably more crisp, more sharp. Looking for that to continue to advance."

Rodriguez, too, said he felt better than he did the first time out, when he allowed three runs in just 3 2/3 innings.

"I feel more control of the ball,'' he said. "I feel more comfortable throwing the ball in the game. Physically, I feel fine. I just see how everything goes every day like bullpens, running and everything. I just want to get back as fast as I can. But I want to get back 100 percent, I don't want to get back at 70 percent and go out there and don't do like I normally do."

Rodriguez, of course, has missed the first month of the season after tweaking his knee at the beginning of spring training.

"The first start I made in Pawtucket,'' recalled Rodriguez, ''I was thinking too much on my knee. Every pitch I'm throwing, I'm thinking like 'Don't push too much,' but (Tuesday) night it was every pitch I'm throwing just thinking of the game and not my knee."

After throwing 84 pitches Tuesday night, the Red Sox want him to get his pitch count over 90 in his next outing.

''I think with each outing he's getting, he's gaining more confidence and feeling more maybe natural and free on the mound," Farrell said.

 

Tonight's lineups: Red Sox at White Sox

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Tonight's lineups: Red Sox at White Sox

The Red Sox face a left-hander -- Carlos Rondon, in this case -- for the second night in a row as they play the middle game of their three-night series in Chicago against the White Sox.

The lineups:

RED SOX:
Mookie Betts RF
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Chris Young LF
Travis Shaw 1B
Josh Rutledge 3B
Christian Vazquez C
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
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Clay Buchholz P

WHITE SOX:
Adam Eaton RF
Jimmy Rollins SS
Jose Abreu 1B
Todd Frazier 3B
Melky Cabrera LF
Brett Lawrie 2B
Jerry Sands DH
Dioner Navarro C
Austin Jackson CF
---
Carlos Rondon P