After tossing 6 2/3 innings for Pawtucket on Thursday, the hurler rejoined the Red Sox before the team's series against the Phillies. Despite surrendering a three-run homer in the outing, Matsuzaka believes his rehabilitation is headed in the right direction.
"I was experimenting a lot during my previous start," Matsuzaka said through interpreter Jeff Cutler. "I was able to figure out what was good and what's bad. The process for [Thursday] was getting rid of all the bad stuff and keeping all the good, and it turned out to be really good. I had a good arm angle. I was able to get my arm through on most of my pitches. I'm at a good place right now."
Before Thursday's Triple-A start, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine wasn't exactly pleased with Matsuzaka's mechanics. But after scanning reports from PawSox pitching coach Rich Sauveur, Valentine took solace in the pitcher's progression.
Valentine particularly liked hearing about Matsuzaka's improved fastball command and durability. Even so, the Red Sox manager isn't ready to set an official date for the pitcher's return from Tommy John surgery.
"I still haven't wrapped my head around that whole thing," Valentine said. "I really dislike calendars dictating when health has occurred. And we'll see. When good health has returned I guess is what I meant."
By Matsuzaka's standards, one more start in Triple-A could be the only thing holding him back from a return to the Red Sox.
"I felt like I was able to grasp something that I was missing in the previous starts," Matsuzaka said. "So I am definitely getting closer to making it back to the majors. It depends on how I feel in my next start and how I feel at that point."