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An ‘encouraging day’ for Daisuke

03.15.10 at 11:38 am ET

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, after being sidelined the last two days by a sore neck, threw long toss from 200 feet and then had a 25-pitch bullpen session during which he threw his fastball, slider and changeup. While the Sox had suggested that Matsuzaka might throw his first live batting practice session of the spring, the team instead decided to have the 29-year-old go straight into a bullpen session, rather than risking a recurrence of the neck issue as a result of sitting idly.

“Just because of the location of where it is on my body, I know that it’€™s in a fairly critical area, so I didn’€™t want to do anything that could potentially set me back,” Matsuzaka said through translator Masa Hoshino. “I think I could have gone forward [to throw batting practice] today, but I think we’€™re still trying to play things conservatively.”

Even so, Sox pitching coach John Farrell and Matsuzaka both made clear that Monday represented a positive step. The back issue that held Matsuzaka back for the first couple weeks of spring training has long been resolved, and the pitcher did not feel impaired by the neck injury on Monday. Assuming that he reports no problems when he checks in with team trainers on Tuesday, Matsuzaka will now be scheduled for his live B.P. session on Wednesday.

“Today was encouraging. He felt much better than he did yesterday, evident by the fact that he went through his long toss and got on the mound. There were no restrictions. His intensity was good. It was improved over his two bullpen sessions that he threw prior to his scheduled batting practice,” said Farrell. “I think he comes away encouraged, feeling good about himself. But we didn’€™t want to let him throw too long after the stiffness that he felt yesterday.”

Matsuzaka said that the neck stiffness that he experienced on Saturday — a “fairly intense pain” that occurred on the first pitch of his bullpen session — was not atypical. He said that he suffers from similar discomfort two or three times a season. Though he suggested that the stop-and-go pace of his spring has been “a little stressful and frustrating,” he seemed to think that the neck issues was a fairly minor one, and that he would have been able to pitch through it during the regular season.

Farrell did not want to outline a timetable beyond the live batting practice session in two days, but he did suggest that when Matsuzaka is ready for game activity, he will likely start pitching in a minor league spring training game in order to ensure that he is pitching in a controlled environment.

Read More: Daisuke Matsuzaka, John Farrell,
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