There were several hundred reporters and dozens of television cameras at Fenway Park in 2006 when Daisuke Matsuzaka was introduced to Boston. His arrival from Japan was one of the biggest baseball events of the year.
Matsuzaka even took the field on a cold day and threw a pitch to owner John Henry as agent Scott Boras looked on approvingly.
At 11:45 a.m. Sunday, Matsuzaka stood in the middle of the Red Sox clubhouse and spoke to eight reporters about the reconstructive elbow surgery that could well end his career with the team after five largely disappointing seasons. Teammates passed by without glancing up. No team executives were present.
Matsuzaka gave tepid answers to a handful of questions. At several points, Japanese media liaison Mikio Yoshimura corrected the interpretation being done by Kenta Yamada as Matsuzaka stood between them.
Matsuzaka said he did not decide on surgery until Friday, a specious claim given the reports that leaked out of Japan early last week and were confirmed in the United States Wednesday and Thursday.
Matsuzaka is expected to have his surgery in California later this week. He said his ulnar collateral ligament is torn and that surgery is the only option.
“It’s my first time to get an operation and all I can say is I’m very shocked as one comes to this result,” Matsuzaka said via Yamada.
Matsuzaka was asked whether he expected to pitch for the Red Sox next season.
“It’s difficult to say at this point,” said Matsuzaka, whose contract expires after next season. “But, all I can do is do my best and come back to the game as soon as I can.”
That was when Yoshimura questioned the translation.
“Correction,” Yamada said. “I have this little bit of anxiety to do this. . . . I have anxiety now. So that all I can do is do what I have to do, my best and come back to the game as soon as I can.”
Yoshimura tried to cut off questions at that point. But I asked Matsuzaka how he assessed his time with the Red Sox given that he may not pitch for them again.
“I don’t think in that way,” Matsuzaka said. “For sure, I hope I come back to the game again with a Red Sox uniform. If I wouldn’t come back to the game, I will have to talk about it.”
And that was that. A group of Japanese reporters were then given their turn.