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Friday, March 16, 2007
Red Sox tell Matsuzaka not to swing

Associated Press

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Terry Francona called Daisuke Matsuzaka into his office to show him video of the Japanese pitcher's only home run. Then the Boston Red Sox manager made sure there would be no repeat Friday.

Francona told Matsuzaka not to swing when he comes to bat against the Los Angeles Dodgers in a game with no designated hitter at Vero Beach.

Francona believes it's not worth risking an injury to the outstanding rookie on a spring training swing even if he did hit a homer last June 9 against ex-major leaguer Darwin Cubillan of Hanshin in an interleague game. Matsuzaka's former club, the Seibu Lions, don't use the DH in the Pacific League.

"I called him in yesterday and showed him his home run. I had it on my computer," Francona said before Thursday night's game against the New York Mets. "So I told him I know he's a good hitter and to save it because he's not swinging."

Pitching coach John Farrell already had delivered that message.

Matsuzaka said he would like to swing, but he knows he'll get a chance to take batting practice before interleague games begin during the regular season.

Atlanta left-hander Mike Hampton strained a muscle on his left side taking a batting practice swing on March 7 and could be sidelined for two months.

But Francona said that wasn't the main reason for ordering Matsuzaka and Josh Beckett, who started Thursday night against the Mets, to keep their bats on their shoulders.

"It's motivated by the fact that they haven't swung and if we're being overprotective, good," Francona said. "I worry enough in interleague about them getting hurt. It just makes no sense to me to let some guy take a hard swing after not swinging the bat for eight months."