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Battery’s power restored?

Matsuzaka, Martinez meet, try to iron out a few things

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / May 19, 2010

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NEW YORK — A day after both players spoke to a lack of chemistry on the field, Red Sox manager Terry Francona and pitching coach John Farrell held a meeting with righthander Daisuke Matsuzaka and catcher Victor Martinez.

On Monday, Matsuzaka allowed seven runs on nine hits over 4 2/3 innings in an 11-9 loss to the Yankees and complained about pitch selection.

Martinez fired back, saying that Matsuzaka had shaken off his choices repeatedly during the game.

“He’s the one,’’ Martinez said. “I’m just back there trying to help him go through the game. At the end, he’s the one who has the ball in his hand. I’m just behind the plate trying to help him.’’

Farrell described the meeting, which took place before last night’s game, as routine.

“I don’t think it was anything more than a difference of opinion on pitch selection,’’ said Farrell.

But the statistics are revealing. Matsuzaka has a 7.89 ERA in four career starts with Martinez behind the plate. His ERA is 3.99 over 70 starts when Jason Varitek catches.

In the one game Varitek caught him this season, against Toronto May 11, Matsuzaka allowed one run over seven innings. In his three starts with Martinez, Matsuzaka has allowed 21 hits and 18 earned runs over 14 2/3 innings.

“We continue to address the differences that might emerge inside of the game,’’ said Farrell. “The fact that there’s a comfort level with certain guys as opposed to others, those are very much part of the game.

“We continually address that to make sure that going into the game the pitcher doesn’t have more stress because of the unknown or the battery arrangement.’’

Francona was asked whether he would try to pair Matsuzaka with Varitek again.

“I’m not going to make the lineup up five days from now,’’ he said. “That’s impossible.’’

As to the comments made Monday and the apparent friction, Francona said he wasn’t concerned.

“When you lose a game and you have to come in and answer [questions] after you lose the way we do, there’s certainly some emotions still left,’’ he said.

“I think it was frustration showing. My point to both of them was, ‘OK, if we’re frustrated, how do we make it better?’ It’s easy to show frustration but how do you make it better? That’s what we’ll try to do.’’

Both Francona and Farrell said the pitcher has the final say as to what pitch is thrown and that Matsuzaka understands that.

“We’re trying to, as we do during the game, to make adjustments, make sure everybody’s on the same page,’’ said Francona. “I don’t think I ever have a problem with the pitcher shaking to get to the pitch they want to throw. I don’t think Victor does, either. I think that was a point he was making.

“For the most part, with our staff, regardless of what pitch they throw, if they throw it with conviction and locate, it’s probably going to be the right pitch.

“We can talk about game-planning and we certainly do. But, again, if guys throw a pitch with conviction, that’s probably going to be the right pitch.’’

Matsuzaka also made a cryptic comment Monday night when asked why he has been prone to such big innings. In three of his four starts, he has had one inning in which four or more runs were scored.

“There’s one thing that I know for sure, but I’m not quite ready to share that at this point,’’ he said.

That came as news to the Red Sox.

“I don’t have any idea,’’ Francona said.

“There’s nothing that has been brought out to us,’’ Farrell said.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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