MLB

Dice-K sharp in third rehab start

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PAWTUCKET, R.I. (AP)

Daisuke Matsuzaka had a strong outing Monday night as he continued his march back to the majors from Tommy John surgery, though he says he's still having rough days with his surgically-repaired right elbow.

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Matsuzaka, who had surgery June 10, pitched 4 2-3 scoreless innings for Triple-A Pawtucket in the third of his five scheduled rehabilitation starts.

''Overall, my body feels good, so that's fine, but my elbow, just depending on the day, some days it feels better than others,'' said the Boston Red Sox right-hander. ''So right now I'm just hoping that when I start, it hits the day that I'm feeling good.''

Dice-K knows the Red Sox are having pitching problems but says he has to continue to rehab at the right pace, meaning Boston's goal of having the Japanese star get in only two more rehab starts could be in jeopardy.

''If I can contribute to the team now, then of course I'd like to be up there, but the best way for me to contribute to the team is to get as close to 100 percent as I can,'' he said. ''I just need to get myself to that point in order for me to contribute the most of the team.

''In regard to being ready in two more games, that's hard to stay because it's just a step by step process, a game by game process. So just go, see how I pitch in my next outing and see how that goes and we'll see where I stand then.''

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After making one start with Class-A Salem and another with Double-A Portland, Matsuzaka had his third start delayed three days by a minor neck issue that started in his back - the results, he said, of traveling around to pitch in these games. He said his neck wasn't an issue Monday night, when he gave up two hits while walking three and striking out four against Rochester.

''Overall I had about four walks and a lot of two-ball, three-ball counts, which (elevated) my pitch count and I really wanted to throw at least five innings but it didn't happen,'' he said. ''I'm not really happy about that.''

Matsuzaka, who has been hampered by high pitch counts throughout his time with Boston, threw 49 of his 87 pitches for strikes. He hit 92 miles per hour in his last inning, after several 91s in the second inning, but also threw an array of off-speed pitches.

''I knew I was throwing a lot of off-speed pitches because that's what I wanted to do,'' he said. ''I'm planning on throwing a lot more fastballs my next outing.''

Matsuzaka left with runners on first and second and two out in the fifth inning after yielding a long double and issuing a walk.

He pitched four innings and allowed three runs) for Salem on April 23 then went 4 2-3 innings and gave up a run for Portland five days later.

There was no word on his next start, but he said he expected it to come after the normal five-day break.

Matsuzaka treated his Triple-A teammates to pregame sushi and was also catering the postgame spread.

Tagged: Red Sox, Daisuke Matsuzaka

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