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Daisuke likely out at least a month

05.18.11 at 4:24 pm ET

Red Sox Medical Director Dr. Tom Gill issued the following statement Wednesday afternoon in regards to right-handed pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka:

‘€œDaisuke experienced tightness in his elbow during his last start. His examination is consistent with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament, and strain to his common flexor mass. An MRI was obtained which confirmed these exam findings. He will be re-examined in two weeks.’€

After the statement, Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Matsuzaka won’t throw at least until his exam in two weeks, and added that it’€™s ‘€œprobably ambitious he will throw then.’€ He added that the Sox are somewhat relieved to have diagnosed the injury at a time when it remains ‘€œmanageable,’€ before getting more serious.

The ulnar collateral ligament, of course, is the Tommy John ligament — the same one that has resulted in hundreds of pitchers requiring surgery that has cost them more than a year on the mound. For now, the Sox seem to think that rehab will suffice to get Matsuzaka on the mound, but it won’t be anytime soon.

“We’€™ve got to let him have some time down, and then let him, when he pitches again, let him go out there and feel where he’€™s free and easy, where he doesn’€™t have to guard against anything, so he can think about pitching and not his arm,” said Francona.

Matsuzaka will not pick up a ball and begin throwing again until he is re-examined by Gill, meaning that it will be two weeks — and likely longer — before he can begin rebuilding his arm strength.

“I think it’€™s probably ambitious that he will throw [in two weeks],” acknowledged Francona. “That will be the first time that he will be examined. I think Dr. Gill uses milestones. That is the first time that he will be looked at, but I don’€™t think that we should expect him to be ready to throw then.”

That, in turn, means that Matsuzaka — whom the Sox expect to place on the DL when their next game starts — will likely not pitch again for at least four weeks, and quite likely longer. A rehab assignment, for now, is not even part of the team’s thinking.

“We’€™re not even to the point where he’€™s picked up a ball. Normally, the time down — if it’€™s two weeks down, three weeks down, four weeks down ‘€“ normally that’€™s about what it takes to get back to the mound. You can kind of do the math,” said Francona. “If the guy is down three or four weeks and it takes three or four weeks to get back to the mound, you’€™re not going to get on a big league mound real quick.”

That said, while it could be four or more weeks before Matsuzaka is next seen pitching for the Red Sox, Francona sounded somewhat relieved that the team shut him down now, at a time when a more serious injury may have been avoided.

“I’€™m glad we got him looked at. I don’€™t know that he really wanted to,” said Francona, who added the same was true of fellow Sox starter John Lackey, who is also on the DL with an elbow strain. “I’€™m glad we did this before it turned into something, I guess, that maybe couldn’€™t be manageable. I’€™m glad we did it.”

Read More: Daisuke Matsuzaka, Terry Francona, Tom Gill,
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