Dice-K down, WBC out?

April, 15, 2009
4/15/09
11:54
AM ET
Uh-oh. Looks like another headache for commissioner Bud Selig ...
    It appears that Daisuke Matsuzaka's workload leading up to and during the World Baseball Classic has caught up to him.

     Matsuzaka
    The Red Sox right-hander labored through just one inning before being pulled from Tuesday night's game in Oakland with what the club diagnosed as arm fatigue.

    Matsuzaka threw 43 pitches, only 22 of which were strikes. After being staked with a 3-0 lead before even throwing a pitch, Matsuzaka gave up five hits and five runs in that one inning, walking two and striking out none. He faced 10 batters. Despite 10 shutout innings from the bullpen, the Red Sox lost, 6-5, to the A's in 12 innings.

    "We talked to him the other day," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "He expressed a couple of days ago some kind of general soreness or fatigue in the back of his shoulder from the [Classic]. We thought we talked it through pretty good in Anaheim and he came out tonight and didn't really have a whole lot. We'll re-evaluate him in the morning."

    --snip--

    During much of Spring Training, Francona often said that there was concern that Matsuzaka and the Red Sox might eventually pay the price down the road for the righty pitching in the World Baseball Classic.

    Matsuzaka started three games in helping Team Japan defend its title, winning the Most Valuable Player Award in the event. Tuesday's game was Matsuzaka's second start of the season. He wasn't particularly impressive in the first one, giving up nine hits and four runs over 5 1/3 innings against the Tampa Bay Rays.

    "Again, I know I'm harping on it a little bit, but I think he probably tried to ramp up too quick [for the Classic] and we're feeling the effects of it," Francona said. "We're eight games into the season, we've lost [six] games, it's not a real fun night."

There's probably just one thing that might kill the World Baseball Classic as we know it: Teams losing pennant races because pitchers who pitched in the WBC got hurt. We don't yet know how badly Dice-K is hurt, and we can't know for sure what role the WBC played in his (presumed, at the moment) injury. But the Red Sox have $100 million invested in Matsuzaka, and you can hardly blame them for being a little sensitive about that investment (let alone their chances in the pennant races this year and beyond). So we'll continue to monitor this situation.

Fortunately for the Red Sox, they're better-equipped to handle the loss of a starter than anyone else in the majors. Between Justin Masterson, Clay Buchholz and John Smoltz, losing Dice-K for a few weeks or even a few months shouldn't be worse than a minor, New England-rattling disaster.

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