Daisuke Matsuzaka Says His Return Could Be Sooner Than People ‘Had in Mind’ (Video)

by NESN Staff

February 21, 2012

Daisuke Matsuzaka Says His Return Could Be Sooner Than People 'Had in Mind' (Video)FORT MYERS, Fla. — The ice bags were draped over Daisuke Matsuzaka‘s right shoulder.

During the Red Sox’s first official workout on Tuesday, the Red Sox pitcher ambled onto the field and played catch to ease his arm back. It was a baby step for the 31-year-old, but one that signaled progress.

For now, Bobby Valentine said Matsuzaka wouldn’t pitch in spring training games. When asked directly about his return from Tommy John surgery, Matsuzaka initially played coy, but offered an optimistic revelation.

“I don’t want to say,” Matsuzaka said through interpreter Jeff Cutler. “But it’s probably earlier than what you guys have in mind.

“The trainers have mentioned an approximate date where they expect me to make a return, but having said that I want to come back at 100 percent and I don’t want to rush things and I want to make sure my body is right when I come back. But I also would like to come back as early as possible.”

In the meantime, the Japanese pitcher has started cultivating a relationship with Valentine. Unlike former manager Terry Francona, Valentine — who managed Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan — speaks fluent Japanese.

So much so, Matsuzaka was even surprised by the extent of their dialogue during their first meeting on Monday.

“There was more Japanese than I expected,” Matsuzaka said. “I was very impressed by his Japanese.”

As an ESPN analyst, Valentine was critical of the way the Red Sox handled Matsuzaka. The club pushed the hurler to stray away from the pitching habits that he developed in Japan.

Following the duo?s conversation, Matsuzaka showed satisfaction with Valentine?s plan for his career.

“He spoke his opinions,” Matsuzaka said. “Which I thought were very insightful, and I also told him my thoughts on that. I think we’re on the same page.”

Check out the video below to see just what Daisuke has to say about his recovery.

Have a question for Didier Morais? Send it to him via Twitter at @DidierMorais or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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