The Red Sox have placed Daisuke Matsuzaka on the 15-day disabled list with a mild right shoulder strain and recalled lefthanded reliever Hunter Jones from Pawtucket.
The news hardly comes as a surprise after Matsuzaka’s alarmingly ineffective performance Tuesday night during the Red Sox’ 6-5 12-inning loss to the host Oakland A’s. Matsuzaka recorded just three outs and threw just 22 of his 43 pitches for strikes in his second start of the season. After the Sox staked him to a 3-0 lead in the top of this inning, he allowed five hits, two walks and five runs in the bottom half, facing 10 batters.
After the game, the club said that Matsuzaka, who was the Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic this spring while pitching Japan to its second title, was suffering from “arm fatigue.” He will be examined by Dr. Thomas Gill, the club’s team doctor, on Friday.
Matsuzaka seemingly disagreed with Francona that anything was physically wrong with. After the two spoke this morning in Francona’s office, Francona said they have reached a consensus.
“Contrary to what Dasiuke said last night, I think he understands it,” Francona said. “I think sometimes guys say some things when they’re trying to compete. We just want him to be able to be Daisuke, not be part of Daisuke. We’ll put him on the DL. We’ll have him looked at Friday, and the we’ll put our heads together and see what the best way to get him where he can make all his starts and be good.”
After speaking with trainer Mike Reinold, “I don’t think there’s an injury,” Francona said. “It just looks like there’s some fatigue. Kind of like last year, where he’s got to build it back up and feel good about himself. I don’t think he said today he felt real good about himself.”
In two starts this season, Matsuzaka is 0-1 with a 12.79 ERA. In 6.1 innings, he has allowed 14 hits, five walks, three home runs, and nine earned runs while striking out five. Red Sox manager Terry Francona indicated earlier today during a radio interview that the team believes Matsuzaka’s issues stem from trying to do too much too soon in preparation for the World Baseball Classic.
The Red Sox tried to monitor Matsuzka from Fort Myers and with team personnel with Matsuzaka in Japan, but they could only do so much to ensure Matsuzaka was not overexerting himself too early in the season.
“I don’t know that we know for sure,” Francona said. “We’re 6,000 miles away, and we tried to get a feel for what he’s doing without overstepping our bounds. I don’t know if we always made other people over there feel like we weren’t overstepping. That’s a tough one for me.”
Once Matsuzaka returned to the Red Sox with roughly two weeks left before the season began, the Red Sox did not notice any serious strain in spring outings.
“That’s hard to tell,” Francona said. “He’s coming off of a game where he’s pitching his heart out with a lot of emotion. And then you come back to a spring training game. So I think it’s somewhat maybe expected. But we like to keep our eyes on guys all spring and watch them build up, because we can watch the progression. It’s frustrating. We knew going in. We talked about it. It’s there. You do the best you can. We’ve had a tough week to boot, and now we lose a pitcher. We’re not thrilled about it. What are you going to do?”
Jones, a 6-foot-4-inch, 240-pound southpaw, is en route to Oakland, and the Sox are hoping the 25-year-old arrives before or during the game since their bullpen was depleted last night. Justin Masterson, Manny Delcarmen, Ramon Ramirez, Hideki Okajima, and Jonathan Papelbon combined to pitch 10 scoreless relief innings Tuesday night before Javier Lopez suffered the loss in the 12th inning.
It is uncertain for now who will take Matsuzaka’s next turn in the rotation, though Masterson, who struck out six in four innings last night, would seem to to be the best bet. It also may be dependent on the status of Josh Beckett, who is appealing his six-game suspension — one start — for nearly hitting the Angels’ Bobby Abreu with a pitch Sunday.