Dice-K ruled out for 'first couple weeks' of season

March, 25, 2010
3/25/10
3:30
PM ET
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Daisuke Matsuzaka gave up one run over two innings in his first game against major leaguers this spring, his latest step in working his way back from neck and back ailments that have delayed his spring.

Manager Terry Francona said after the Red Sox defeated the Marlins, 6-4, Thursday afternoon that Matsuzaka would not be ready to join the Red Sox rotation for the “first couple weeks” of the regular season, a revelation that hardly comes as a surprise considering how far the Japanese right-hander is behind the other pitchers.

In relief of Tim Wakefield on Thursday, Matsuzaka pitched the seventh and eighth innings against the Marlins, allowing two hits and one earned run.

Matsuzaka threw 25 pitches, 17 of which were strikes. He had only two first-pitch strikes.

“I thought the biggest good thing was that he got out there and stayed in his delivery,” Francona said. “I think you’re going to see more come out of his arm, but I thought it was good.”

Francona said the Red Sox limited him to two innings because the plan is for Matsuzaka to pitch three innings on Monday. When looking ahead to his pitching rotation early in the year, Francona said: "Dice-K wouldn't be in the first couple of weeks of the season, for sure."

As for his two-inning stint against the Marlins, Matsuzaka said: "I think the most important thing was being able to get in that game mindset and facing an opposing team and facing live hitters out there today, I found myself in that state. I think that’s the most important thing I can take away from today.”

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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