FORT MYERS, Fla. -- For the second straight outing since altering his between-starts throwing program, Daisuke Matsuzaka came away with good results. On Sunday, the result was a 5 2/3-inning outing in which he allowed two runs on three hits, striking out four while showing an impressive fastball that was clocked as high as 96 mph by some scouts' radar guns.
"Just like last outing I was able to throw strikes using the breaking ball, and also I had great life on my fastball," Matsuzaka said through a translator. "It was not necessary to throw to the corners because my fastball was strong enough to throw down the middle."
The alteration in Matsuzaka's program came following a disappointing 3 2/3-inning, five-run outing against Tampa Bay on March 10. The pitcher took the suggestion of pitching coach Curt Young that instead of throwing his side session and long toss on the same day, he now executes long toss on the second day after his starts, and side work on the third day.
"I'm feeling comfortable with this new program, but I want to to keep watching it and see how this throwing program will fit me," he said.
"We're just trying to mix it up and find a good formula," Young said.
Matsuzaka pointed to his matchups with Albert Pujols as perhaps the most encouraging moments to come out of what was his fifth spring training outing. The righty explained that it was heartening to "have Pujols waiting for a fastball and still be able to throw a fastball and either get a strike or a foul ball. ... I felt lucky to be able to throw to such a strong hitter to check my condition and what level I am at."
Pujols went 0-for-2 (fly out, foul out) with a walk in his three at-bats against Matsuzaka.
Asked what he deemed the most encouraging aspect of the Sox' fifth starter's outing, Young said: "It's just seeing the same thing we saw last game, that consistent look of quality. That was what was really positive today."
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