With Daniel Bard now in Triple-A Pawtucket, the Red Sox plan to activate right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka for a start on Saturday against the Nationals. That would mean that Matsuzaka will be making his start precisely 365 days after undergoing Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament last June.
In three starts since a cortisone shot, Matsuzaka has a 1.54 ERA with eight strikeouts, three walks and six hits in 11 2/3 innings. Overall, in eight rehab appearances spanning three levels, he has a 3.65 ERA with 30 strikeouts and nine walks in 37 innings. He tossed 1 1/3 innings for Triple-A Pawtucket and was lifted after 40 pitches on Tuesday in what amounted to a last tuneup prior to his activation.
While Valentine had felt that Matsuzaka was not yet ready to pitch in the majors when he saw him prior to a late-May cortison injection, in his recent outings the right-hander has appeared to find comfort with his delivery.
"Part of that search is he was kind of trying to replicate the pain. He was trying to do things that might be abnormal to see if his elbow would hold up. It was kind of a test. I think he’s over that," said Valentine, who said that he believed the pitcher's fastball has been in the 89-94 mph range, perhaps touching 95 mph. "It all kind of smoothed out. You know, he wasn’t sure. There was a little doubt about his elbow even. It was one of those wakeup days and just felt it was a thing of the past and that’s what we needed."
Matsuzaka was 3-3 with a 5.30 ERA ERA in eight games last year. In five years with the Red Sox, he is 49-30 with a 4.25 ERA.
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