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Matsuzaka could make spring debut March 18

03.07.10 at 12:26 pm ET

Red Sox manager Terry Francona told reporters prior to his team’s spring training game against the Orioles in Sarasota that the rough estimate is to have pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka pitch in a game for the first time this spring on March 18. The date is an off day for the Red Sox, so Matsuzaka would be most likely facing hitters at the minor league training facility if that schedule does hold up.

Jason Varitek has also been away from the team with an excused absence, tending to a personal matter. “We just told him to handle what he needs to and we’ll make adjustments,” Francona told reporters. “He knows he has our blessing to do what he needs to do.”

Mike Lowell, who visited with surgeon Dr. Michael Kelly, may have a plan mapped out for his integration into spring training games by Monday. Francona was scheduled to meet with trainer Mike Reinold regarding the matter.

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