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Matsuzaka to have an MRI on his shoulder

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / May 29, 2008

SEATTLE - Daisuke Matsuzaka, who left Tuesday night's game with right shoulder fatigue before the fifth inning, will return to Boston tomorrow for a precautionary MRI administered by Dr. Thomas Gill and will be further evaluated.

"We are going to give him a precautionary MRI because we have a baseline one to go on," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said last night. "When we make a judgment, we certainly want to be careful. And if we're going to err, we're going to err on the side of caution. Friday morning he'll have that, and then we'll proceed from there."

Francona said he did not know whether the injury would affect Matsuzaka's next start. But with a day off today, the rotation could be juggled. Tim Wakefield could start on normal rest Monday in Baltimore. Justin Masterson's Triple A debut was moved up from Saturday to today in Pawtucket, which would put him in line to start for Boston Tuesday. He could be slotted into the rotation against the Rays.

Monday's starter, initially listed as Matsuzaka, was changed to "TBA" yesterday.

"We can back things up until that fifth day if we need to or if we want to," Francona said.

The coaching staff arrived at Safeco Field early to oversee a couple of pitchers' side sessions and then for testing and discussion of Matsuzaka. The meeting lasted well over an hour, some of which was due to the process of translating from English to Japanese and back.

"The testing, it's pretty comprehensive," Francona said. "I guess my point is they've done it numerous times before, but you want to compare. Actually, he tested out pretty good, which is good news for us. I think we're pleased. And the time-consuming part of it is explaining something [in multiple languages]. We're not forgetting who we're dealing with. We're dealing with a guy that's one of the best pitchers that's ever come out of Japan. That's why we signed him.

"We have an obligation to explain how we feel and then listen to how he feels. That's what we do with all our pitchers."

Matsuzaka felt fatigue in his bullpen session Tuesday, which catcher Jason Varitek could tell from the pitcher's demeanor. But it wasn't until Matsuzaka began throwing his warm-up tosses for the fifth that he was removed. He threw two pitches to backup catcher Kevin Cash before putting a hand to his back.

The training staff and manager came out - and Matsuzaka was lifted.

"He was fatigued," Francona said. "OK, why? You want to answer those questions. If it is vague, it's not really trying to be. This is vague because, again, putting your hands on somebody's shoulder and testing is not an exact science. And pitchers, especially guys that have pitched innings, if you look at a pitcher's shoulder, there is no pitcher in this league that has a pristine shoulder. That's just the way it goes."

Youkilis sits again

Kevin Youkilis was held out for the third straight game with soreness in his right hand and wrist. Sean Casey (0 for 3) again started at first base. Francona said he tried to talk himself into putting Youkilis in, then decided against it.

Both Francona and Youkilis said the first baseman would likely be available for defense. Youkilis feels the pain mostly when he swings the bat.

He should be ready to return tomorrow night in Baltimore.

"It's slowly progressing a little bit," Youkilis said. "I can feel it when I make contact, but it's going away a little bit. It should be good to go. They don't want me to aggravate it today."

Quite a steal

Jacoby Ellsbury had his 20th stolen base of the season, tying Patsy Dougherty (1902) and Heinie Wagner (1907) for fifth place all-time for steals by a Red Sox rookie. Next up is Nomar Garciaparra with 22 . . . Tim Wakefield threw his 30th career complete game last night. His last was April 15, 2006, also against Seattle . . . The Sox have lost 10 of their last 12 road games. "Everyone makes a big deal about our road record," Dustin Pedroia said. "But it doesn't matter where we win them. If we win enough games to get in the playoffs, it don't matter if we go 81-0 at home and 0-81 [on the road]. As long as we win games, we'll be all right." . . . Despite Erik Bedard's struggles this season, he's been terrific at Safeco Field. Last night's win improved his record to 3-1 with a 1.34 ERA in Seattle . . . Looks like those measures to speed up the games are working. The Sox' longest game of the road trip was a three-hour contest Tuesday night. Last night's came in at a crisp 2:11.

Lefties aren't right

The Red Sox entered last night are holding lefthanded batters to the third-lowest average in the American League, at .240 . . . After allowing the winning run Tuesday in the bottom of the ninth, Mike Timlin extended his abysmal record in Safeco Field is 0-6 , with a 10.29 ERA . . . During batting practice, Varitek grabbed Pedroia, draped him over his shoulder, and carried him down the steps and into the dugout. Pedroia was laughing . . . Varitek was raving about Brandon Morrow, who shut down the Sox in an inning of work Tuesday. He struck out Manny Ramírez on a 99-mile-per-hour fastball, then followed that with a strikeout of Mike Lowell on a 98-m.p.h. heater. Morrow pitched a scoreless eighth in last night.

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