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Daisuke starts his own spring training

03.25.10 at 5:14 pm ET

FORT MYERS, Fla. — It was a start, but nothing more.

In his first appearance in a major league spring training game this season, Daisuke Matsuzaka threw just 24 pitches over two innings, allowing one run when Florida’s Cameron Maybin tripled in Chris Coghlan. When it was all said and done, he had surrendered two hits while not striking out or walking a batter, working with a fastball that ranged between 88-91 mph.

While the rest of the Red Sox pitching staff waits and wonders (see Tim Wakefield) about what resides around the corner in the regular season — with the other starters having all made in the vicinity of six starts — Matsuzaka is just getting going. He will next pitch three innings Monday, after which a normal five-day workload will ensue.

“The fact that he got back on mound for two innings of work three days after going two innings,” Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell said when asked about what the team could take out of Matsuzaka’s appearance in the Sox’ 6-4 win over the Marlins on Thursday at City of Palms Park.

“He wasn’t as powerful today as he showed in the minor league game, but this is basically the start of spring training for Daisuke. You’re going to see the ebbs and flows to arm strength and action to stuff. Again, we’ve talked at length that we aren’t going to step any steps along the way in building that foundation and a two-inning stint is what everybody started at and we’ll build progressively.”

(Click here to see video of Matsuzaka’s 32-pitch outing against Baltimore minor leaguers)

Judging by Matsuzaka’s comments after the game, through translator Masa Hoshino, the pitcher approached his outing against the Marlins with the kind of caution reserved for early-spring training appearances.

‘€œYeah, if that was 100 percent, I’€™d be in trouble but really with today being my first game, I was thinking about how to approach it yesterday,” Matsuzaka said through Hoshino. “I think the most important thing was for me to be able to get into that game mindset and facing the opposing team and facing live hitters out there today, I found myself in that state and that’€™s the most important thing I take away from today.’€

Although Red Sox manager Terry Francona confirmed that Matsuzaka will be a few weeks behind the rest of the staff when the regular season begins, the pitcher said, ‘€œI think for now, the plan is for me to leave with the team.’€

‘€œI thought the biggest good thing was that he got out there and he stayed in his delivery,” Francona said. “I think you’€™re going to see more come out of his arm, I certainly believe. But I thought it was good. We held him back to two because we’€™re going to bring him back on Monday and let him go three then. I think he follows [Josh] Beckett. That was the reason. We wanted [Scott] Atchison to throw an inning, so that worked out pretty well. he spun a couple of breaking balls, threw a couple of cutters and a couple of changeups. Again, it’€™s hard because everyone else has gotten to a certain point and Dice is back at the other point so we just have to remember that.’€

As for what Matsuzaka took away from the outing …

‘€œToday I threw very few innings and my pitch count was very well, but at the same time the workload and the fatigue I experienced out there are much better than what I can get on the side,” Matsuzaka said. “I think I need to continue to face opposing hitters and get in that work with those matchups. As for the length of time, I’€™m not sure how much more time I need. I just need to keep facing hitters and see how that goes.”

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