BOSTON -- The Red Sox officially placed right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament and strain to his common flexor mass, and don't expect him back any time soon.
Matsuzaka will be examined againin two weeks, and won't throw at all during that time. If he passes that exam, he would likely need anadditional two weeks before he could return to the mound, meaning four weeks off is probably a best-case scenario.
But the reality is, the Sox are unsure how long Matsuzaka -- 3-3 with a 5.30 ERA this season -- will be out.
Manager Terry Francona said Dice-K won't pitch again until "hes free and easy, where he doesnt have to guard against anything so he can think about pitching and not about his arm . . .
Normally . . . if its two weeks down, three weeks down, four weeks down, thats normally about what it takes to get back to the mound. So you can kind of do the math. If a guys down three or four weeks and it takes three or four weeks to get back to the mound, you're not going to get on a big-league mound real quick.
Im glad we got him looked at, because I dont know if he really wanted to. Im glad we did before this turned into something.
Sprained ulnar collateral ligaments can sometimes lead to Tommy John surgery, which sideline a pitcher from 12-18 months. The Sox, however, hope they've caught the problem early and can avoid surgery.
The results of the MRI seemed to surprise Matsuzaka.
When I hear the result of the MRI, actually the condition was worse than I expected, Matsuzaka said through a team interpreter. About the time frame, I have two weeks off, and I will see how the recovery process goes.
The right-hander, who said he may consider getting a second opinion within the next two weeks, said the pain has made him unable to throw a baseball.
In general, I could stand the pain and still continue to throw before, he said. But at this point I cant really. Its difficult to hold it and throw with this kind of pain. So I usually have a very high tolerance but this time its hard for me to keep throwing.
Matsuzaka last pitched Monday against the Orioles,giving up five runs in 4 13 innings on five hits and seven walks. Healso left his start on April 29 with elbow tightness after pitching toone batter in the fifth inning. Since then, he has thrown 11 13innings over two starts and one relief appearance, allowing 11 runs(all earned) on 13 hits and 10 walks with six strikeouts while his ERAhas climbed from 3.81 to 5.30. It's likely he was dealing with theelbow injury on April 29.
Matsuzaka, who said he is not concerned about surgery, has spent time in each of the last four seasons on the DL. In his five seasons with the Sox, the only year he didnt make a trip to the DL was 2007, his first.
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen