Theo Epstein just spoke to a handful of reporters here at the Complex and said that Daisuke Matsuzaka has what they believe is only a mild back strain and that he should have a “normal” spring training.
But the righthander has been shutdown as a precaution. The Red Sox think the injury is just the result of overwork and not due to some specific incident.
“He played catch on Friday and was thinking about throwing a pen and said he felt it a little bit in his mid upper back and decided not to throw the pen,” Epstein said. “Our trainers took a look and we just decided, ‘Hey, let’s slow this down and do it conservatively.’
UPDATE, 9:55 a.m.: In terms of background, Matsuzaka arrived in Fort Myers on Thursday and played catch on Friday, which is when he felt the pain. He then returned to Boston on Monday for a day.
“He was going back to Boston anyway for personal reasons. So just we decided to kind of not to let him do much until we got the physical given what he went through last spring, trying to do too much too soon with the WBC,” Epstein said. “We’re two months away from needing his rotation spot anyway, so slow it down and let our doctors look at him.
“We don’t want to make something small into something big by trying to stay on a set schedule.
Was his schedule set back?
“Yeah. It already has been to a certain extent because he would have thrown with these other guys and he’s not going to throw at least until we get the physicals. Maybe a little bit longer depending on what we find.
“I’m not a doctor and I don’t want to get ahead of this thing, but if it’s a real mild strain like we think it is, then he’ll be able to have a normal spring training but be delayed a bit at the start of camp. I don’t want to put a number of days behind that he will be, but he’ll be a little bit behind because while all of our guys are long tossing and throwing pens now, he’s not going to do that.”
At this point as we look at it, we think he’ll be able to have a normal, if delayed, spring training.”
Keep in mind that if Matsuzaka is the No. 5 starter, the Sox could wait until April 18 before using him thanks to the days off early in the season.