BOSTON ?? At first, Bobby Valentine didn't want to show
During Thursday's pregame news conference, the Red Sox skipper wanted
to avoid divulging his plans for Daisuke Matsuzaka. Eventually, though, he caved.
"He'll pitch Monday — not here, necessarily,"
Valentine said. "He has a bullpen. [Aaron] Cook has a
bullpen. We have Josh [Beckett] going out there. There's a lot of things going
on. Unless we just want to start some stir on something, I don't think there's
any reason to even talk about it."
Matsuzaka, of course, is a polarizing pitcher. With his
contract due to expire at the end of the season ?? and Matsuzaka expressing a
desire to return ?? the Red Sox' plan for the pitcher could offer a subtle
indication of his future with the team.
After much prodding, Valentine finally disclosed that the
31-year-old, who is healthy, would likely stay in Pawtucket. Before suffering a
setback, he struggled in five starts with Boston, posting an 0-3 record with a
6.65 ERA to go with 20 strikeouts and eight walks.
With a new surgically repaired elbow, Matsuzaka believes
greener pastures remain ahead.
"After I had the surgery, my body definitely feels
better than it did before, which is a good thing," Matsuzaka said.
"It's definitely been stressful and frustrating at the same time to have
to fight through all these injuries. But I think I'm finally at a good place
and I'm looking forward to getting better and better every time I pitch."
For now, at least, he'll be pitching in Pawtucket.
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