Pregame notes from Bradenton

BRADENTON, Fla. – Terry Francona said today the team was changing Daisuke Matsuzaka’s between-game ritual so he doesn’t have a long toss session and a bullpen session in the same day.

“Trying to get him throwing his side a day later,” explained Francona. “What Dice has been doing over the course of his career in Japan….they had the extra day so he had a long toss/side. Here he’s been doing it on the same day. That’s the way he’s always done it. He’s adamant he would do it. Curt is trying to get him so he doesn’t do it in the same day. Curt said just try it. That’s what we’re attempting.”

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This could make Matsuzaka stronger in his starts and carryover his side session into games.

“I don’t know about carryover but Curt felt two times in one day you’re kind of tearing down your arm. Long tossing and then coming back with a side – it’s a lot in one day. So trying to understand what Dice-K feels he needs and do it a little bit more economical,” Francona said

The Red Sox have constantly tweaked Matsuzaka the past four-plus years to adapt his Japanese style to Major League Baseball. Some things have worked and some haven’t. This is the latest attempt to try to optimize their investment.

“It makes sense when you think about it,” Francona said. “His routine was based on what he used to pitch with the extra day in Japan. The majority of guys do it (bullpen session) on second day (after a day of rest).”

Francona said because Young, who replaced John Farrell as pitching coach, is new to Matsuzaka, they had a sit down with Matsuzaka with an interpreter recently to go over the change.

“That was a part of why we sat down because it (Young) is a new voice. It’s a little frustrating where most of the conversations we have with him we could do (informally) like we do with Lester in left field, just passing by, but with Dice-K you have to get the interpreter it has to be more formal. I wished it didn’t have to be that way, but it does.”

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Other news:

Francona said that Tim Wakefield and Clay Buchholz will split an in-camp game on Monday, Alfredo Aceves will pitch against the Yankees on Monday night. Wakefield and Buchholz will then pitch their next live games on Friday in separate split squad games.

Francona had no formal news on the Opening Day starter or rotation but may have something later in the week. It’s still lining up as Jon Lester as the starter.

Francona didn’t expect any issues with Adrian Gonzalez after his two at-bats yesterday.
“He’s been doing so much that two innings isn’t going to bother him. He’s worked so hard. If we have to give him a break early in the year we will. I don’t anticipate he’ll have any problems. Looks too healthy,” Francona said.

Francona said he felt comfortable with Jed Lowrie at first base and “all over the infield.”

The manager hoped to get 65-75 pitches out of starter Josh Beckett.

Francona loves the power Jacoby Ellsbury is flashing, but he thought it was more important for the leadoff hitter to show a “.380-.400” on base percentage than to hit home runs. Yet, Francona wouldn’t mind the home runs as long as it didn’t hurt getting on base. “You never know what guys are going to become during the course of their careers. I never would have thought that about Youk,” Francona said.

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