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Hitters get an eyeful

Matsuzaka's BP impresses mates

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Daisuke Matsuzaka threw another 50 pitches of live batting practice yesterday, including three to surprise visitor Manny Ramírez.

Ramírez did not offer at any Dice-K servings and opted not to go back in for a second round against the Japanese ace. Throwing to Doug Mirabelli for the first time, and working exclusively from the stretch, Matsuzaka also faced David Ortiz, Wily Mo Peña, Julio Lugo, Dustin Pedroia, Alex Cora, and Alex Ochoa.

Matsuzaka said he was throwing at about 70-80 percent. Asked about pitching to Ramírez and Ortiz, he said, "I saw both of them. They had no intention of hitting my balls. They were just seeing the ball."

He said he was working on a two-seam fastball, but was not sure if he would use it during the season

"He got some good stuff," said Peña. "His fastball is sneaky-quick. It's got some movement. He's going to be good. His changeup was perfect. It's a nasty pitch. No gyroball, though. I was waiting for that, but he didn't throw it."

Ortiz, who tried to bunt once against Dice-K, said, "Everybody is just trying to throw the ball over the plate right now. His control looked good. He's got good stuff, but we haven't played yet. Come to me right after he pitches in a game and I'll tell you what I see.

"The way he's going to do this year? I don't know. We got to wait and see, right? But I'm pretty sure he's going to do well. He's got good stuff, he knows how to pitch, he stays in the strike zone, and that's what you need to survive in the big leagues."

Manager Terry Francona, who did not watch the session, said, "I can't go watch him every time he throws because it's the popular thing to do. But I heard he looked good."

Matsuzaka's next live action will be Friday night at City of Palms Park against Boston College. The Eagles are 0-3 on the season, including a one-run loss Sunday to top-ranked Vanderbilt (10-0).

Play ball
Francona did not provide a lineup for tomorrow night's exhibition opener at City of Palms Park against the Twins. Curt Schilling will pitch the first two innings and be followed by Julian Tavarez, Joel Pineiro, Manny Delcarmen, Brendan Donnelly, J.C. Romero, Bryan Corey, and Runelvys Hernandez. Matt Garza starts tomorrow for Minnesota. The Sox have two games each on Thursday (Northeastern/Toronto) and Friday (BC/Toronto). Roy Halladay will start for the Blue Jays Thursday and Gustavo Chacin Friday. Japanese lefty Hideki Okajima makes his first appearance Friday against the Jays . . . Boston College coach Mik Aoki will have a conference call with the Japanese media today . . . Francona watched Josh Beckett's live BP and called it "phenomenal." Said Francona, "His fastball was down, exploding through the zone. He threw the ball very wall." Beckett will pitch against Northeastern Thursday.

Starting over
Mike Lowell batted against Jonathan Papelbon and said, "He had a lot of life on his fastball. His two-seamer was moving really well. I know he's trying to get his slider and curveball down because he knows he can't pitch nine innings with a closer's mentality. There is a different mind-set. But he has such good stuff, he really doesn't throw a lot of balls down the middle." . . . Jon Lester was impressive in live batting practice and shattered the bat of Mirabelli. "He did very well," said Francona. "And he's being treated just like everyone else." . . . General manager Theo Epstein has been away from camp for a few days but was expected back yesterday . . . Bottled water at the concession stand goes for $4.75.

Dan Shaughnessy can be reached at dshaughnessy@globe.com.

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