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Matsuzaka a pain in the neck for Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  July 3, 2012 01:37 AM

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OAKLAND, Calif. — Daisuke Matsuzaka assured the Red Sox he could pitch against the Oakland Athletics on Monday despite a sore muscle on the right side of his neck.

But once he took the mound, that optimism proved badly misplaced. Matsuzaka could not get out of the second inning, giving up five runs in a game the Red Sox lost, 6-1, before a crowd of 17,434 at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

A sore trapezius muscle is the latest in a litany of physical issues that have turned Matsuzaka (0-3) into an expensive and unreliable spare part. The issue affected him in spring training and again in May, requiring cortisone shots each time. Now it appears likely to send him back to the disabled list.

“Leading up to the start, my neck tightened up a little bit and I ended up not being able to throw a bullpen,” Matsuzaka said via his interpreter, Jeff Cutler. “I focused on getting myself into condition to pitch tonight. I went out there tonight and ended up not being to get my arm through.”

Matsuzaka and manager Bobby Valentine discussed the situation after the game.

“The decision will be made sooner than later,” Matsuzaka said when asked about going on the disabled list.

Matsuzaka answered only three questions before one of his attendants ended the interview session abruptly.

Matsuzaka is 16-18 with a 5.17 earned run average and a 1.49 WHIP since the start of the 2009 season. One of the team's best starters in his first two seasons with the Sox, he is now one of the worst.

Monday was the third time in his Red Sox career that Matsuzaka has lasted one inning in a start. In 2009, also in Oakland, he allowed five runs in one inning and went on the disabled list the next day. A repeat of that scenario is possible.

“Dice obviously didn’t have his good stuff tonight,” Valentine said. “We were hoping he was going to work through it. As it turned out, he didn’t work through it.”

With Clay Buchholz expected to come off the disabled list later this month and Franklin Morales and Aaron Cook pitching well, Matsuzaka may not be needed for a while. He has a 6.65 ERA in five starts since returning from elbow surgery.

Also:

• Cody Ross left the game for a pinch runner in the seventh inning because of a twisted ankle. But he said he was fine.

• Valentine praised the work of Clayton Mortensen, who pitched five innings (and threw 71 pitches) to save the bullpen after Matsuzaka flamed out.

• Josh Reddick is 5 for 15 with a double, two home runs, and five RBIs in five games against the Red Sox this season.

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