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Daisuke Matsuzaka has a plan, and it includes pitching until he’s 40

02.25.12 at 10:46 am ET

Daisuke Matsuzaka still plans on pitching in the United States until he's 40-years-old

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Two years ago, Daisuke Matsuzaka told WEEI.com that his goal was to pitch at least he was 40 years-old and do so while performing in the United States.

Friday he was asked if anything has changed having his career slightly derailed by Tommy John surgery.

“I feel the same way,” Matsuzaka said through translator Jeff Cutler.

Matsuzaka’s future is a topic worthy of conversation, with the 31-year-old entering the final year of his five-year contract. He has pitched in 106 regular season games for the Red Sox, owns a 49-30 record with a 4.25 ERA, having thrown 10,766 pitches. And, by the way, the righty is expected to miss half of 2012 due to elbow injury.

“Five years have gone by pretty quickly,” Matsuzaka said. “It doesn’t feel that way. Going into the last year of my contract, it’s hard to fathom. All I can really do is do what I can to make a comeback and give back to the team as much as possible.

“Even though it’s the last year of my contract, I’m still part of this team. As long as that’s the case my job is to do everything in my power to contribute to the team.”

As one scout who saw Matsuzaka pitch numerous times in Japan recently said, “You haven’t seen the best of Daisuke.”

Even with this elbow-induced pitstop, there is still time.

Upon his return, it will be interesting to see how much more Matsuzaka throws his changeup, a pitch Bobby Valentine said he would like to see the pitcher use more. He has never used the offering more than 11 percent of the time against left-handed hitters since his arrival in ’07, with barely any offerings to righties.

“The changeup is an important pitch for me so I would like to get to the point where I am able to throw it with confidence,” he said.

Then there is the velocity.

Those who saw Matsuzaka pitch in Japan insists he lived between 95-97 mph. Partly due to the elbow injury, he’s never had a season in which is fastball averaged more than 92 mph.

“I’m not sure where my velocity is going to be when I come back, but what I’m looking forward to the most is being healthy and that’s all that I’m worried about at the moment,” he said. “(Pitching with a lower velocity) was a cause of stress, but I had to find a way to work through that.

“When I make a comeback I want to be able to throw the ball in a way I can be satisfied with and be happy with my performance. I would like to show everybody a me that’s the best they’ve ever seen.”

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