PHILADELPHIA -- Daisuke Matsuzaka has one more start left before his 30-day rehabilitation assignment ends, and the Boston Red Sox then must either place him back on the active roster or, according to the collective bargaining agreement, persuade Major League Baseball there is either a new injury or recurrence of an old one that requires him to go on another rehab assignment.
If that were to happen, the team would have to shut down Matsuzaka for seven days before the clock starts up again, and the player would have to give his written permission to go on another rehab assignment. But given that Matsuzaka says he is feeling no pain or discomfort, it would appear to be a tough argument for the Sox to make.
Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine sounded like a man who would prefer more time before the team needs to make that decision. Matsuzaka is scheduled to pitch again Tuesday, with the Sox decision due the next day.
"I still haven't wrapped my head around that whole thing," Valentine said. "I really dislike calendars dictating when good health has returned."
Matsuzaka went 6 2/3 innings for Pawtucket in a 5-0 loss to Durham on Thursday night, the deepest into a game he has pitched thus far, and reported no ill effects Friday.
"I feel fine right now," he said through interpreter Jeff Cutler. "Nothing awkward. No pain. I feel good."
Matsuzaka said in his previous start, he had experimented with his arm angle and delivery. That was not the case Thursday night, he said.
"Yesterday I was able to figure out my mechanics to a point where I felt very comfortable out there," he said. "I'm in a really good place right now.
"During yesterday's start I felt very confident out there. I felt I was able to grasp something I was missing in previous starts. I definitely am feeling closer to making it back to the majors."
Matsuzaka said he pitched better than his yield of five runs showed. If he could take one pitch back, he said, it would be a curveball that was taken deep for a three-run home run. But he is now at a stage, he said, where he has to show some results, too.
"Going forward it's all about the results coming together with how I feel," he said. "With that I should feel more comfortable and should give the front office more confidence in getting back up here."