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Matsuzaka hid leg injury from Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  January 9, 2010 05:42 PM

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The disconnect that existed between the Red Sox and Daisuke Matsuzaka may have gone deeper than first realized.

The righthander told the Japanese magazine Friday that he suffered a leg injury while training for the WBC that he kept hidden from the team. The injury altered his mechanics and led to the shoulder injury that put him on the disabled list.

This is not an injury the Red Sox were aware of, a source confirmed. This is speculation, but based on Matszuaka's description, it sounds like a groin strain, which is a troublesome injury for a pitcher.

Some excerpts from the story, as translated by friend of the blog Daigo Fujiwara, a Globe staff graphic designer.

"Early on in January 2009, I hurt my right inner thigh. I consider movement around my hip joint a crucial part of my pitching motion. It happened during my exercise to strengthen my hip joint that I incorporated into training since 2008. I may have pushed myself just a little too hard. It wasn't the pain that killed me, but it was the regrets and guilt that filled my mind. It was the time to start building up for the season, but I hurt myself because of my own doing.

"I had to make a decision whether this injury was serious enough to withdraw from the World Baseball Classic. But my body was functioning well, and by taking anti-inflammatory medicine I can tolerate the pain. So I continued training, but actually it was even hard just to jog. .

Didn't trainers and coaches notice?

"I didn't let them. I didn't want to be the center of concern for people. I didn't tell the trainers. Fortunately, I was in charge of my own training, so if it started to hurt, I could adjust to not hurt myself. But pitching while hiding the injury was very difficult. Even when I didn't feel the pain, my body was holding back because it sensed the danger. So, my pitching motion was more of standing straight up and throwing with my upper body, relying on my shoulder strength more than usual.

"(The WBC) was hard. I relied on my wits and my shoulder strength. I had to be creative. I varied the paces between the pitches; I used the different kind of slider that I usually don't throw.

"My plan after the WBC was to heal myself while keeping my turn in rotation. But the condition didn't get better as the season went on. After my first stint on the DL in May, I was very hard on myself. Because I got plenty of rest, my shoulder was much stronger, so I could still get up there in velocity. But I couldn't use my lower body well, and I could not use my full body to generate the power. My fastball was not effective, therefore I lost effectiveness of my other pitches. In hindsight, it was impossible to continue faking the whole season, it was too much mental stress. But the Red Sox struggled a little bit in the beginning of the season so I wanted to help the team as much as I could.

"I didn't want to show my weaknesses. I didn't want them to think I was making excuses. I would rather be criticized than ridiculed for making excuses. I repeat, I really didn't want to be the center of concern for people. I believe when you say you are sick, you become sick. Sure I appreciate that you are concerned about me, but I don't even like to be wished good luck about my health.

Matsuzaka also talked about his being critical of the Red Sox, which led to a series of meetings.

"(That) was a very important event for me. I think I got through to (the team) that shoulder strength and pitching stamina are two different things. They have generously agreed that I can have long bullpen sessions as long as I can pass the measurement for shoulder strength. The reason I was able to come back strong after my second DL stint was because my thigh was healed and I was able train with the long bullpen session. It was not because I lost weight. If by losing weight you become a better pitcher, I'd lose much more. It is not that simple. I have re-started the exercise to strengthen my hip joint again.

"I am very sorry for making you worry. I assure you that the (2010) season will be a great season. I am going to redeem what I lost in 2009. With my health back, I am confident and determined to produce this year. I will (try my best to) become world champion once again."

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Interesting comments by Matsuzaka. Signing John Lackey may be a smarter move than first realized.

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