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Report: Matsuzaka Hid Leg Injury

01.10.10 at 10:24 am ET
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According to a translation from the Boston Globe, Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka told the Japanese magazine Friday that his struggles in 2009 stemmed from a thigh injury incurred while training for the World Baseball Classic last January. The right-hander said that he was able to pitch through the condition by taking anti-inflammatories, but that the pain was such that it was difficult for him to jog.

As a result of the injury, Matsuzaka said, he relied more on the strength of his shoulder than his legs to generate power. He did not alert trainers to the condition, he said, because he did not want to create concern about his health.

“I didn’t tell the trainers. Fortunately, I was in charge of my own training, so if it started to hurt, I could adjust to not hurt myself,” said Matsuzaka, according to the Globe’s translation. “But pitching while hiding the injury was very difficult. Even when I didn’t feel the pain, my body was holding back because it sensed the danger. So, my pitching motion was more of standing straight up and throwing with my upper body, relying on my shoulder strength more than usual.”

Matsuzaka said that when he returned to the Red Sox after the WBC, his shoulder allowed him respectable fastball velocity, but the pitch continued to lack power without the benefit of his lower body.

“After my first stint on the DL in May, I was very hard on myself. Because I got plenty of rest, my shoulder was much stronger, so I could still get up there in velocity. But I couldn’t use my lower body well, and I could not use my full body to generate the power. My fastball was not effective, therefore I lost effectiveness of my other pitches,” he was quoted as saying. “In hindsight, it was impossible to continue faking the whole season, it was too much mental stress. But the Red Sox struggled a little bit in the beginning of the season so I wanted to help the team as much as I could.”

Matsuzaka went on to say that his improvement upon his return to the rotation in September was the byproduct of his thigh injury having healed, rather than the loss of weight. He also noted his gratitude that the team has now said that he can resume extended bullpen sessions between starts so long as shoulder strength tests indicate that he is fit for such an undertaking.

The pitcher concluded that he will try to make amends for his lost 2009 major-league season with a return to effectiveness in the coming year.

“I assure you that the (2010) season will be a great season. I am going to redeem what I lost in 2009,” the Globe quotes Matsuzaka as saying. “With my health back, I am confident and determined to produce this year. I will (try my best to) become world champion once again.”

Matsuzaka and the Red Sox clashed over the pitcher’s training methods during the past season, especially in the aftermath of the pitcher’s pronounced displeasure with the team’s program. But in the aftermath of that incident, the two sides had candid conversations that led to what was viewed as a mutual understanding about how to proceed going forward.

Matsuzaka has been working at Athletes’ Performance in Arizona to ensure that he is in top shape for the coming year. Agent Scott Boras acknowledged on Friday that the transition to Major League Baseball has not been without its challenges, but that, in the aftermath of the conversations that the pitcher had with the Sox last year, he is trying to adopt routines that will permit him to reproduce his success in the U.S.

“Daisuke is a major star in Japan. To come here and to take on the major leagues and the difference of it took time,” said Boras. “This year, he’s just making every effort now to make the transition to fit more than he has.”

Read More: Daisuke Matsuzaka, thigh, world baseball classic,
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