Friday, July 3, 2009

No timetable for Dice-K

Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Friday that it's far too early to set any goals or expectations for the return of Daisuke Matsuzaka to the Red Sox rotation.

"We really don't have a timetable," he said. "This time, we're going to make sure he's ready to pitch. We have something in our head that we maybe think is realistic, but it's a long way off -- and it's entirely going to be based on how he's doing."

Matsuzaka was expected to play catch from 60 feet on flat ground today, the first time he'd thrown since the Red Sox shut him down indefinitely on June 21. He's been working on his strength but doing nothing baseball-related over the last two weeks.

He'll spend the weekend in Boston to avoid traveling on the holiday weekend and fly to Fort Myers, Fla., to start fresh with a shoulder-strengthening program. In a lot of ways, it'll be like the start of spring training all over again.

"He needed a little bit of a break mentally, too," Francona said. "That was, more than anything, the idea behind giving him some time off. ... Sometimes you just get fried. He worked hard when we were gone without a baseball, and now we'll get a ball back in his hands just to play catch. As he gets stronger, that will certainly increase."

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