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Matsuzaka may miss a month

Test results worse than he expected

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By Michael Vega
Globe Staff / May 19, 2011

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The Red Sox placed Daisuke Matsuzaka on the 15-day disabled list yesterday, retroactive to Tuesday, but the righthander could be out at least a month after an MRI Tuesday confirmed he had a sprained ligament in his elbow.

Matsuzaka experienced tightness during his last start, a no-decision in an 8-7 victory over the Orioles Monday in which he lasted 4 1/3 innings and allowed five runs on five hits and seven walks.

“In general, I could hold the pain and still continue to throw before, but at this point I can’t really,’’ Matsuzaka said through an interpreter. “It’s difficult to hold it and throw with this kind of pain. So I usually have a very high tolerance, but this time it’s hard for me to keep throwing.’’

Matsuzaka, who will be reexamined in two weeks, expressed concern over the MRI results, saying he might consider a second opinion.

“When I heard the result of the MRI, actually the condition was worse than I expected,’’ he said. “I have two weeks off and I will see how the recovery process goes.’’

Manager Terry Francona said Matsuzaka would not be permitted to pick up a ball before his reexamination.

After John Lackey (elbow strain) went on the 15-day disabled list, Francona was glad the club took a cautious approach with Matsuzaka.

“I’m glad we got it looked at, because I don’t think he really wanted to,’’ Francona said. “But I’m glad we did before this turned into something, I guess, that couldn’t be manageable.

“Same thing with Lack. I think we weren’t going to put him in a position where this turned into something it shouldn’t.’’

Child’s play The arrival of the Tigers last night marked the return of former Sox catcher Victor Martinez and his son, Victor Jose, who was in the Sox clubhouse before the game wearing a replica of his father’s Tigers uniform.

After roughhousing with Francona in the manager’s office, Victor Jose played catch in front of the Sox dugout with D’Angelo Ortiz, the 6-year-old son of David Ortiz, who was attired in a replica of his father’s Sox uniform.

“It’s definitely a lot of fun for him,’’ Martinez said. “He had a baseball game back in Orlando and he was excited to come here because he didn’t want to miss this trip. He was all excited and he couldn’t wait to see everybody.’’

As for Martinez’s relatively short time in Boston?

“I don’t have any words to describe it,’’ said Martinez. “It’s the best time I’ve had in my career.’’

First hits Clay Buchholz hit Jhonny Peralta and Brandon Inge in the seventh inning, the first batters he has hit this season. But he didn’t blame the weather or a slippery ball. “I just didn’t want to miss middle and they were supposed to be sinkers in, and they just came out wrong,’’ Buchholz said, who rallied to strike out Austin Jackson on his career-high 127th pitch. “Body felt pretty good, my legs felt fine and I still felt like I had my legs beneath me,’’ he said. “Obviously, looking up at the board and seeing all the pitches you’ve thrown that you’re almost at the end of it, but I was glad that [Francona] left me out there. If I would’ve given up those runs, I would’ve felt better giving them up instead of someone else giving them up and feeling sorry about it.’’ . . . Jonathan Papelbon picked up his eighth save after recording back-to-back strikeouts of Alex Avila and Ryan Raburn, the Nos. 7 and 8 hitters. It improved his strikeout-to-walk ration to 23-2. “I was thinking strikeout,’’ Papelbon said. “I didn’t want this game to get into extra innings.’’

Up against it The Tigers will send Justin Verlander to the mound tonight to oppose Josh Beckett, a tantalizing pitching matchup. Asked how the Sox planned to attack the righthander, who threw the second no-hitter of his career May 7 against the Blue Jays, Francona said, “With Verlander, sometimes you’ve got to pick a pitch, because I don’t know that you can hit both speeds. You’re talking about a guy who can hit 100 and he’s got off-speed pitches that are good. You’ve got to see what he’s doing, first of all, but it sounds to me like he feels pretty good about himself. Make him work hard and maybe get him out of the game early, get him to make a mistake and don’t miss it.’’ . . . Dan Wheeler, who was placed on the DL May 5, is still eligible to come off tomorrow. “That doesn’t mean he has to, but he’s doing fine,’’ said Francona.

Michael Vega can be reached at vega@globe.com.

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