BOSTON -- Daisuke Matsuzaka turns 32 in four days. Ordinarily, he would be on regular rest and in line to pitch on his birthday.
But it is possible the Japanese right-hander has made his last start for the Red Sox. Manager Bobby Valentine said Sunday that he is considering dropping Matsuzaka from the rotation after he gave up five runs in 1 1/3 innings in Saturday night’s 9-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.
“I’m not sure,’’ Valentine said when asked whether Matsuzaka would remain in the rotation. “He was very disappointed [Saturday night]. So was I.’’
Matsuzaka is 1-5 with a 7.20 ERA in eight starts since returning from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery. He has had one start in which he has gone as many as seven innings. That was on Aug. 27, when he held the Kansas City Royals to five hits and an unearned run in a 5-1 win. But in his following two starts, he has allowed 12 hits and 11 earned runs in a total of five innings.
“I was disappointed he didn’t come out in the second inning throwing what he was in the first inning,’’ Valentine said. “There’s got to be a way of replicating that.’’
Valentine wasn’t inclined to give Matsuzaka the benefit of the doubt Sunday morning because he was coming off an elbow injury. “I don’t think it’s related to the surgery,’’ he said.
Felix Doubront is scheduled to pitch Thursday, which would be Matsuzaka's turn on normal rest. Valentine said he wants to see Doubront throw a bullpen Monday before he clears him to make that start against the Yankees. If Matsuzaka is dropped from the rotation, Valentine said, his spot would likely be taken by Alfredo Aceves.
The Red Sox also plan to have left-hander Franklin Morales undergo an MRI, Valentine said, to examine the cause of discomfort in his shoulder.