BOSTON, MA - MAY 13: Manager Bobby Valentine #25 talks with Daisuke Matsuzaka #18 of the Boston Red Sox before the game against the Cleveland Indians at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
The Red Sox didn't have a place for Daisuke Matsuzaka in the rotation, thanks to Clay Buchholz starting to pitch like he belongs in the majors. Dice-K himself didn't think he was up to the task of retiring major-league hitters just yet, even if Boston had a need for him at the moment. All that was missing was an injury to delay his rehab -- and subsequently, the question of just what to do with the 31-year-old right-hander.
That won't be an issue for likely another month and change, as Matsuzaka's rehab from Tommy John surgery was shut down due to a sore trapezius muscle in his upper back. It was clear that, given both the Red Sox and Dice-K didn't feel he was ready, that a 30-day extension (following a seven-day break in his rehab) of his time in the minors was forthcoming, but it's not something that can happen without an injury. While any old injury would be considered convenient giving the timing -- Dice-K's initial rehab clock was on the cusp of expiring -- Peter Abraham reports that Matsuzaka received an injection to the affected area on Sunday.
"That's been nagging him for quite a while and we've got to make sure that that's 100 percent before he's going out there again,'' managerBobby Valentine said. "I talked to him [Saturday] about it being sore. He said he would maybe pitch through it. They examined him and didn't think it was wise.''
We've seen Matsuzaka attempt to pitch through injuries before, and the results generally aren't pretty. With Boston trying to get their starters back on track, and Dice-K in the last year before his free agency, it's not in the interest of either party to rush the issue of his rehab. As of now, once Aaron Cook returns from his own DL stint, it looks like he'll remain the first line of defense against starter injury for at least another month, assuming he isn't given another opportunity to opt-out of his contract.