Saturday, June 20, 2009

Red Sox to skip Dice-K's next start

Red Sox manager Terry Francona said this afternoon that the Red Sox are going to run some tests to find an injury that explains why Daisuke Matsuzaka has been so ineffective this season.

OK, Francona didn't say it quite that way. Here's what he did say:

"We stayed here late last night, Theo (Epstein) and John Farrell, and we came back this morning because we have some decisions to make on our rotation. What we talked about and met and decided was, going forward next week, we are not going to start Dice-K. When he got here today, we called him in to talk about that. It became apparent, into the meeting, that ... we need to get him looked at physically.

"It's Saturday afternoon, and, hopefully, that process will get started quickly. He will be looked at by (team doctor) Tom Gill and the trainers, and ... you're talking about potential MRIs that may not be done at quarter to 4 on a Saturday when we just got done with our meeting. But that all will be coming fairly soon, hopefully, and we will try to get better answers."

Here's more: "We need to get him looked at physically. It all started with the (World Baseball Classic) and him not having, in his own words, a consistent base. We've been fighting that all year and continue to. When you take a guy out of the rotation, rather than just take a guy out of the rotation, we want to fix it. It became very obvious as we talked to him that we need to look at some things physically."

Here's more: "I've watched him for three years now, and it looks to me like he's struggling to get the velocity he could get before a little easier. That's consistent with when he came back after the WBC. He ramped up pretty quick to pitch in games that meant a lot to him, and I understand that, but there wasn't that base to build off for the entire season."

Here's even more: "When we get out of a meeting at 3:30, we can't have a medical opinion at 4:15. It's just not going to happen."

Here's still more, in response to a question about putting Matsuzaka on the disabled list: "We don't have to do something. He pitched yesterday. We're certainly not going to pitch him tomorrow. We've got Monday off. We'd rather go slower and use proper judgment. That's what we'll do. In fairness to him and us and everybody, we'll do it correctly."

You can take all that however you want. Francona himself said things he and others say tend to be construed numerous different ways. You can, however, take several things to be absolutely true:

1. The Red Sox do not believe Matsuzaka is a viable option to make his next start.
2. The Red Sox do not know of any injury afflicting Matsuzaka at this point.
3. The Red Sox are going to do everything they can to figure out what is wrong with Matsuzaka.

From here? The smart money is on Matsuzaka being placed on the disabled list with whatever injury the Red Sox medical team finds. His fastball velocity is down a tick from last year, and that might be justification enough.

Smoltz will assume Matsuzaka's spot in the Red Sox rotation on Thursday. Beyond that? The Red Sox have no answers. They wish they did.

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