The New York Mets reassigned veteran right-handed pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka to Triple-A Las Vegas, the team announced Saturday.
The Mets made the announcement after Dice-K capped off a solid spring, throwing five scoreless innings and striking out eight Saturday afternoon against the Toronto Blue Jays. Matsuzaka spent the majority of the spring fighting for the fifth spot in the starting rotation, but despite finishing with a 3.05 ERA in six starts, he ultimately lost out to Jenrry Mejia.
“I always knew there was a possibility that I would be going to the minors, but … I have confidence in what I’ve been doing,” Matsuzaka said through interpreter Jeff Cutler, via ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin. “I definitely am shocked at this decision. … I’m disappointed. But I just have to move on from this and go out and pitch.”
Although Dice-K didn’t make the 25-man roster, there is still a chance he could be at Citi Field for Opening Day. Meija is listed as day to day with inflammation in his right arm after being struck with a line drive Friday, and Jon Niese is scheduled to return from the disabled list April 6 in the homestand finale against the Cincinnati Reds.
If either of the starters are unable to go, Matsuzaka would likely get the nod.
“The situation with Daisuke was very difficult. He pitched very well,” Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said. “Jenrry Mejia also pitched very well. Obviously we have health issues pending with respect to Jonathon Niese and Jenrry. Were we to do something somewhat different, it might make it more difficult for us to have a replacement ready on either Jenrry’s day or Jonathon’s day. I’m not suggesting that Jonathon won’t pitch. We just have to provide for those contingencies.”
After spending the first six years of his career with the Boston Red Sox, Matsuzaka posted a 3-3 record with a 4.42 ERA last season in seven starts for the Mets.