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Lugo is here, Matsuzka is pitching

Posted by Adam Kilgore, Globe Staff  March 27, 2009 10:24 AM

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Daisuke Matsuzaka is in the Red Sox bullpen at the moment, throwing a well-attended 45-50 pitch side session. If all goes well, Matsuzaka will pitch his first game of the spring with the Red Sox on Monday in Orlando against the Atlanta Braves. Matsuzaka threw 98 pitches in his final World Baseball Classic start.

"It's been a unique schedule between the WBC and flying back and forth," manager Terry Francona said. "I'll probably take a wander down there just to see how he's throwing."

Julio Lugo arrived back in Fort Myers last night. Today, the healing torn meniscus in Lugo's right knee will be evaluated by Dr. Tom Gill. Francona said earlier that Lugo would return to Fort Myers when he was on the verge of peforming baseball activities. So, if Gill's evaluation goes well, it's safe to assume Lugo will be back in drills shortly. By the end of the day, the Red Sox will know "where they think he is and where he's going to go," Francona said.

John Smoltz had no problems the day after his first bullpen session of the spring, as the Red Sox expected. "He backed it off a little bit in the bullpen just to try to get his legs underneath him," Francona said. "I think the aggressiveness on his throwing was to the point where these bullpen sessions won't tax him."

Mike Lowell is the lineup again. After today's game, he will have played four of six days, the most strenuous stretch this spring in his return from offseason hip surgery. In 22 at-bats Lowell has three home runs and a .318 batting average. The Red Sox remain pleased with how well his hip has responded.

"He's been real steady," Francona said. "There haven't been any setbacks. The second day after he plays hasn't been affecting him. He's handled everything fine."

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