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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

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.

‘€œI 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.

‘€œFive years have gone by pretty quickly,’€ Matsuzaka said. ‘€œIt 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.

‘€œEven 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, ‘€œYou 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.

‘€œThe 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.

‘€œI’€™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. ‘€œ(Pitching with a lower velocity) was a cause of stress, but I had to find a way to work through that.

‘€œWhen 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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