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Matsuzaka closer to actually pitching

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  March 1, 2010 12:54 PM

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Daisuke Matsuzaka's incremental return picked up some speed today as he threw off a mound in the bullpen to a catcher standing after throwing more long toss.

"Dice had a great day," Terry Francona said. "That was as good a day as you could possibly have. I don't think you can throw a ball like that and not be totally healthy."

Matsuzaka will have an easier day tomorrow then another good workout on Wednesday. He hopes to throw a regular bullpen by the end of the week. That could be Thursday.

"I want it to be better the next time," he said through an interpreter. "But everything feels good."

It is evident, and Francona essentially admitted this, that Matsuzaka will not be ready for Opening Day. But with the days off in the schedule, the Red Sox can use a four-man rotation for two weeks until he is ready.

Mike Cameron (left groin) did not run today but took batting practice in the cages and on the field and felt fine. "Everything is good," he said. "I'd be playing if we had a real game. We're just being careful."

Turns out Tug Hulett has a sore shoulder and is behind in terms of throwing.

Mike Lowell took some batting practice today but wanted to do it in the cages. "It sounds like it went real well," Francona said.

When could Lowell be ready for a game?

"I don't know. That's as honest as I can be," Francona said. "There has to be progression. Not only with his thumb but with running the bases and repeating some things. I don't think we can put a timetable on that. The next five or six days, I'm not sure that's realistic."

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