FORT MYERS, Fla. — Though it’s likely to be 10 days before Daisuke Matsuzaka throws in his first game this spring for the Red Sox, there were good signs in the 65-pitch bullpen he threw this morning at 10 a.m.
Matsuzaka was able to throw all of his pitches in the session, his second bullpen since sustaining a minor back injury that has put him behind the rest of the team’s starters.
“[It was] encouraging from the standpoint he threw 65 pitches, used all of his pitches in the bullpen,” pitching coach John Farrell said. “Right now it’s more a matter of refining the timing of his delivery, and establishing release point on each individual pitch, as opposed to making sure that from a health standpoint he’s not feeling anything, which he’s not. So encouraging from that standpoint that he’s into the progression of bullpens and ultimately to batting practice.”
Matsuzaka will throw another bullpen either two or three days from now, based on how he feels after playing catch tomorrow. From there, Matsuzaka will throw his first live batting practice of the spring on either Friday or Saturday. The plan is for him to throw two BP sessions, though that could change, Farrell said.
“If the next couple of mound sessions go favorably, which there’s no reason to think it won’t, we may look at a game on the minor league complex, rather than a second BP at this point,” Farrell said. “But without getting too far ahead of ourselves, tomorrow will be a further indicator of our next couple of sessions on the mound.”
Manager Terry Francona told reporters in Sarasota, Fla., that Matsuzaka could throw in his first game on March 18. That happens to be the lone day off for the team, though the Sox could have Matsuzaka throw in a minor league game on that day.
Asked about Matsuzaka’s breaking pitches, Farrell said, “Certainly not season form. But the fact that he’s manipulating the baseball, putting different spins on the baseball are all encouraging, that there’s no restriction from the upper back issue he was dealing with. So today, again, I think from a volume standpoint and being able to use different pitches, a positive step.”