- Joe McDonald, Reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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BOSTON -- Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka will make two more minor league rehab starts for Triple-A Pawtucket before being called up to Boston's starting rotation.
The right-hander, who had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in June 2011, is scheduled to start for the PawSox on May 17 and May 22 before his rehab assignment expires on May 23. Matsuzaka made his fourth minor league start on Saturday in Pawtucket, working 5 1/3 innings. He allowed five runs on seven hits, including two home runs, with one walk and five strikeouts. He threw 90 pitches, including 54 for strikes.
Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine watched the game tape of Matsuzaka's outing and it was clear to the manager that Matsuzaka needs some more time.
"I didn't think he was as good as he should be," Valentine admitted. "His mechanics weren't very good at all. But he's throwing pain-free, so that's good."
Matsuzaka had said after his third rehab start last week that he was not happy with his mechanics.
"Right now he's worried about his strength and his ability to endure pitches, things like that. He'll take another step," Valentine said.
When Matsuzaka is able to return to Boston, Valentine will have some decisions to make regarding the starting rotation, a group that consists of Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard and Felix Doubront.
When asked about the possibility of employing a six-man rotation, Valentine said he could see it working for the short term, but not on a full-time basis.
"A full-time six-man rotation? It depends who the six are," Valentine said. "I guess it can work but I don't have any plans for that right now as a long-term situation. I can see it being done a couple of times through out of necessity."
When Valentine managed in New York, he said there were a few times the Mets used six starters.
"A lot of it is routine. Breaking routine is difficult for most," he said. "With six days, you usually have to throw twice in between and it changes the days they lift their weights and changes the days they're in the training room. We're all creatures of habit."
With Matsuzaka on the verge of returning, there could be a little competition for spots in the rotation.
"No one has asked me about his situation as it relates to their situation, but I hope everyone in the starting staff feels like they have to compete and earn everything they get," Valentine said.
Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka will make two more minor league rehab starts for Triple-A Pawtucket before being called up to Boston's starting rotation.