Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka left his start on Friday night against the Mariners with what the team is calling right elbow tightness.

Terry Francona made the decision to take Matsuzaka out of the game in the top of the fifth inning after he gave up a single to Ichiro Suzuki to lead off the frame.

Following the hit, catcher Jason Varitek went out to the mound to check on his pitcher, before quickly motioning to the dugout. That brought out the training staff and Francona who deemed the right-hander would come out of the game.

Francona admitted that a sudden drop in velocity was what caught everyone's eye.

"He just said he was stiff," Francona told the media following the Red Sox' 5-4 loss. "He didn't put up a fight. Obviously, we're trying to be cautious.

"I think we think he's gonna be OK for his next start. We'll reevaluate him [Saturday]. That would have bene awful hard to leave him in."

Matsuzaka's next scheduled start would be Wednesday against the Angels. Since there are no scheduled off days before then, the Sox likely won't have the luxury of juggling the rotation. Tim Wakefield is always an option. Right-hander Alfredo Aceves started on Friday night for Triple-A Pawtucket, so he could work on normal rest if the Sox have to make a roster move.

Matt Albers replaced Matsuzaka in the game.