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Daisuke ‘not worrying too much about’ elbow, expected to make next start

04.29.11 at 11:39 pm ET

For now, at least, the Red Sox think that the situation with Daisuke Matsuzaka‘s elbow is not an issue with implications beyond Friday.

Matsuzaka suggested that he had been dealing with some stiffness starting sometime around the third inning of his start. Between the fourth and fifth, the team noticed that he appeared to be stretching out his arm. Then, when he took the mound in the top of the fifth, his velocity dropped from the low-90s to roughly the mid- to high-80s during a five-pitch at-bat that culminated in a single by Ichiro Suzuki.

Matsuzaka said (through a translator) that he felt that he “could have continued throwing,” but with the warning signs apparent, the Sox felt differently.

Catcher Jason Varitek went to the mound. The pitcher and catcher were soon joined by manager Terry Francona as well as multiple trainers on the mound, where the decision was made to remove Matsuzaka rather than risk a more significant injury.

“Dice just didn’t look right. The ball wasn’t coming out, he was inside the ball, his velocity dropped quite a bit. We wanted to make sure he was alright. He didn’€™t look right,” said Varitek. “It was just a drastic change in delivery to me. So I wanted to make sure he was alright. Tito did the right thing of removing him before we lose him.”

For his part, Matsuzaka was far less concerned. He suggested that the stiffness was apparent but not unusual, and said on multiple occasions that he “could have continued throwing.”

“I didn’€™t really feel I needed to pull off from the mound,” said Matsuzaka. “This kind of tightness happens sometimes but I didn’€™t really pay attention to it. when tito comes to the mound, I told him I could continue to throw. That was [Francona’s] decision.

“I have an idea what’€™s going on with my elbow right now so I’€™m not worrying too much about it,” he added. “It’€™s not particularly unusual pain.”

Matsuzaka did his normal post-outing routine when he returned to the Sox clubhouse following a four-plus inning performance in which he gave up three runs (one earned) on three hits, walking four and striking out four. The pitcher will be examined again on Saturday, at which point the Sox will have a better gauge of his availability going forward.

For now, the team believes that it may have avoided a worst-case scenario with the pitcher.

“We made the trip to the mound, and he just said it was stiff. He didn’t put up a fight. I just think we were trying to be obviously cautious. When somebody says they’re feeling stiffness — and again, when it’s through a translator, it makes it a little bit more difficult — but it’s awful hard to leave a guy in a game,” said Francona. “I think we think he’ll be OK for his next start. Certainly, we’ll check him out more [Saturday], but it would be awful hard to leave him in.”

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