Boston Red Sox Say Daisuke Matsuzaka To Change Between-Game Ritual

Jeffrey BrownAnalyst IMarch 14, 2011

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 26:  Daisuke Matsuzaka #18 of the Boston Red Sox delivers a pitch in the first-inning against the New York Yankees on September 26, 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Daisuke Matsuzaka has looked horrible this spring.

I’m not talking about his typical brand of horrible, where he pitches pretty well for most of the game, but has that one bad inning; I’m talking about the kind of bad where it appears he would be in over his head facing a decent college baseball team.

Red Sox fans have been routinely frustrated by Matsuzaka’s exploits in the United States. Even when he was winning consistently in 2008, he put too many runners on base and it seemed he pitched out of the stretch as often as he used the wind-up.

He has never been the pitcher the team, Red Sox Nation or Matsuzaka himself expected he would become. He was unable to adjust to the game in the United States—to the five-man rotation, the between-game workout regimen, the umpires and the American strike zone, the quality of the opposing hitters, etc.

He has repeatedly had excuses for his lack of performance. In addition to the reasons listed above, he has blamed injuries or any of a variety of disagreements he has had with the club over his between-game throwing program or offseason training ritual.

He’s a victim of coi-cumstance!

Last February, pitching coach John Farrell told The Nation Dice-K had (historically) been steadfast in wanting to stay on his personal throwing program, but that he had been more receptive to the team’s desires to make some adjustments. We were told he had gone to Athlete’s Performance Institute in Arizona over the winter and had “terrific workouts” in a program designed by the club’s training staff.

Farrell said he was “in a great frame of mind.”

But the on-field performance did not match his attitude.

As spring training began this year, we were again led to believe things would be much better. He told a Japanese newspaper that he felt so good that he felt like he was “throwing one hundred mile an hour.”

Just a few weeks later, he has been bashed in a couple of starts and we learn that he is averaging less than 90 mph with his fastball.

Today, we awoke to find articles in most of the major Boston-area newspapers that he is ready to change his between-game routine between to reflect more of an American approach.

Huh? Didn’t John Farrell tell us last winter that he had made adjustments in his preparation to reflect the way the ballclub wanted him to prepare and train?

Today, we heard from new pitching coach Curt Young that Matsuzaka’s “Japanese routine,” which was based on starting once every six days, called for him to long toss one day and throw a side session the next day, but that Matsuzaka was “forced” to do his long toss and side session on the same day here in Boston due to the five-man rotation employed in American baseball.

Sounds like Dice-K is trying to BS someone else, if you ask me. We have yet another version of the same old tired rationalization for his litany of failures.


Young said he believes the current program (throwing twice on the same day) is too much and that he has convinced Matsuzaka to push his side session back and try throwing on different days.

After the last two years of fragility and poor performance, I am desperate to know if he has previously tweaked his between-game routine to do his long-toss and side sessions on different days or if this is just a repeat of the same characteristic—a prideful and stubborn refusal to accept responsibility for failure.

Terry Francona, ever the player’s manager, explained:

“(Daisuke) and Curt had been talking about throwing his side a day later. With what Dice has been doing over the course of his career, in Japan, they had the extra day. So he’d have long toss (one day) and side (session the next day).

"Here, he’s been doing it on the same day. He’s always done it. He was adamant he would do it. Curt’s trying to get him where he doesn’t do it on the same day. We asked him, ‘Hey, just try it.’ That’s what we’re attempting to do.”

The hope is the tweak will decrease the wear and tear on his shoulder, which Young believes has accounted for his lack of velocity in spring training. But if this is really the way he has always done it here in the US (per Francona), then why hasn’t he ever had an issue with his velocity in the past?

It sounds like the manager and coach are trying to provide him with yet another excuse for his ineffectiveness, taking pressure off the pitcher while—maybe—helping to boost his trade value.

It says here that Red Sox Nation and the front offices around MLB have heard all of this before, and that NO ONE is buying the explanations any more.