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Matsuzaka back on DL

He has sore neck; return unknown

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / July 4, 2012
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OAKLAND, Calif. — For the eighth time since the start of the 2008 season, Daisuke Matsuzaka is back on the disabled list.

The issue this time is a sore right trapezius muscle and Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine has no idea when Matsuzaka will return. He was taken out of Monday night’s game in the second inning after throwing only 28 pitches against the Athletics.

“That neck thing, we’re going to try to give it some more time and see if it goes away for good this time,” Valentine said Tuesday.

Matsuzaka started having issues with his neck in spring training as he was working to return from elbow surgery. In May, the neck injury was blamed for a series of erratic performances in the minor leagues during a rehabilitation assignment.

Now comes his latest setback.

Matsuzaka (0-3, 6.65 earned run average) lasted only five starts and 23 innings after the Red Sox activated him June 9. On Monday, he allowed five runs on four hits and two walks before Valentine pulled him out of the game. The Red Sox went on to lose, 6-1.

Matsuzaka had problems with his neck leading up the game but told the team he could pitch. It was evident early that he was having problems.

Valentine said he regretted not taking Matsuzaka out even earlier.

“That was my fault. I should have trusted what I was seeing,” he said.

To replace Matsuzaka on the roster, the Sox called up 27-year-old first baseman Mauro Gomez from Triple A Pawtucket.

Gomez was with the Sox from May 11-20 but appeared in only two games, going 0 for 2 as a pinch hitter. He hit .311 with 19 homers and 55 RBIs in 72 games for Pawtucket and made the International League All-Star team.

“Mauro’s been swinging the bat well. See if he can be there if we need him,” Valentine said. “We’ll see how we use him. He’s a good righthanded bat.”

Gomez is primarily a first baseman but does have 71 games of experience in the minors playing third base. However he has not played the position since 2009 in Single A ball in the Texas organization.

There is another roster move coming. Righthander Justin Germano is on the way here and is expected to be activated Wednesday. He was 9-4 with a 2.60 ERA in 17 games (16 starts) for Pawtucket and had the right to opt out of his deal if not called up.

Although a starter in Pawtucket, Germano would pitch out of the bullpen for Boston. He is 8-20 with a 5.02 ERA in parts of six seasons with the Padres, Reds, and Indians.

Clayton Mortensen, who pitched five innings in relief of Matsuzaka on Monday, is likely to be optioned to make room for Germano on the major league roster. The Sox also would have to make a move on their 40-man roster.

Rotation set

Aaron Cook will start for the Red Sox Wednesday afternoon instead of Franklin Morales.

Cook will be pitching on normal rest, having thrown an 81-pitch shutout at Seattle Friday.

The Sox have also set their rotation for the weekend series against the Yankees at Fenway Park. Josh Beckett will start on Friday with Morales and Felix Doubront pitching Saturday’s day/night doubleheader, likely in that order. Jon Lester is scheduled for Sunday night.

The Yankees will start Hiroki Kuroda Friday. Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes Saturday (the order has not been determined) and Ivan Nova Sunday.

Jenks released

The Red Sox released Bobby Jenks, reaching a contract termination settlement and placing him on unconditional release waivers.

Jenks, who was signed to a two-year, $12 million deal by former GM Theo Epstein before the 2011 season, has not pitched this year as he recovers from two back surgeries.

Jenks pitched only 15.2 innings last season — none after July 7 — and posted a 6.32 earned run average.

Jenks made news in spring training when he accused surgeons of mistakes in his first back surgery. He then was arrested for driving while intoxicated after leaving a Fort Myers, Fla., strip club.

Middlebrooks out

Rookie third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who strained his left hamstring Sunday, was out of the lineup again. “It’s a better than it was. I’m just waiting,” he said. Valentine said the Sox are hopeful that Middlebrooks can play this weekend but acknowledged they could put him on the disabled list backdated to Monday. “There’s no telling. He’s coming along,” the manager said. “He’s a little better today than he was yesterday and that’s progress.”

Ellsbury moving on

Jacoby Ellsbury was 0 for 4 in a game for the Gulf Coast League Red Sox in Sarasota, Fla., and will join Double A Portland Wednesday in Manchester, N.H. Ellsbury was 2 for 10 with a home run and three RBIs in four GCL games . . . Scott Podsednik was 1 for 2 with two walks and an RBI and played left field for Pawtucket in his fourth rehab game. He is close to being activated, according to Valentine . . . The Red Sox can add a 26th player for Saturday’s doubleheader, a new major league rule. Valentine said it was likely that player would be a pitcher.

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

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