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Friday, June 3, 2011
Surgery next for Dice-K; Rich Hill too?

ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- The $103 million investment the Boston Red Sox made in Daisuke Matsuzaka took another hit when manager Terry Francona confirmed Friday that the right-hander will undergo surgery on his pitching elbow.

Francona said after Boston's 8-6 win over the Oakland A's that the surgery would happen "probably next week," and will be performed by orthopedist Lewis Yocum in Southern California.

The team transferred Matsuzaka from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list Friday. Matsuzaka had already decided to opt for Tommy John ligament replacement surgery, a baseball source told ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes on Thursday.

Matsuzaka has yet to make a public statement about his decision, which he made after returning home to Japan to see family and then meeting Tuesday with Yocum, who confirmed the Red Sox's diagnosis that there was a tear in his ulnar collateral ligament. Yocum, who is the medical director of the Los Angeles Angels, outlined the options available to Matsuzaka, including the rest and rehabilitation initially prescribed by the Red Sox, but said that if the elbow did not respond to the more conservative approach, it would only delay his return to pitching.

The ballclub had never ruled out surgery as a likely course of treatment for Matsuzaka, saying only that more evaluation was required.

Francona said before Friday's game that he had spoken at some length with Matsuzaka on Thursday.

"He is very driven to come back and help us next year,'' Francona said. "He was really good yesterday. I was proud of him, the way he talked, the way he handled it.''

The estimated recovery time for the surgery -- which involves the transfer of a tendon, usually from a patient's forearm, to rebuild the ligament -- is a minimum of a year. Assuming Matsuzaka is able to return in that time frame, he potentially could be back to pitch in the second half of the 2012 season, the sixth and final year of his contract with the Red Sox.

The Red Sox also appear to have lost lefty reliever Rich Hill for the season. He has a damaged ligament in his pitching elbow and, like Matsuzaka, likely will have Tommy John surgery. Boston placed him on the 15-day disabled list and called up lefty Tommy Hottovy from Triple-A Pawtucket.

Matsuzaka signed a six-year, $52 million contract with the Red Sox through the 2012 season in December 2006 after a brilliant career in Japan. Boston also had to pay $51.1 million to the Seibu Lions for the right to negotiate with him.

The investment has produced disappointing returns.

Matsuzaka's best season came in 2007, when he was 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA and finished fourth in the AL Cy Young voting.

But after going 31-15 with a 3.72 ERA in his first two seasons, Matsuzaka was 16-15 with a 5.03 ERA the past three years when he had four stints on the disabled list. In eight appearances this year, seven of them starts, he was 3-3 with a 5.30 ERA. In his career with Boston, he is 49-30 with a 4.25 ERA.

He did have two of his best outings in his career in consecutive starts, allowing one hit in seven scoreless innings on April 18 against Toronto and one hit in eight scoreless innings on April 23 at the Angels. But in four appearances since then, he allowed 12 earned runs and 16 hits in 15 1/3 innings.

Before Friday's game, Matsuzaka played soft toss in the outfield.

"I think he's going to take this upon himself and kind of attack the rehab when it comes," Francona said.

Hill, 31, plans to get a second opinion on his injury next week. He had become a key contributor for Boston after starting the season in Pawtucket.

He pitched eight scoreless innings over nine games since being recalled. But in his last outing, on Monday night, he faced just one batter, walking Adam Dunn on seven pitches. After the last pitch, Hill grabbed the area near his left arm and left the game.

"It was really (hurt) on that pitch," he said. "You could feel the ball coming off my fingers and it was just numb. At first, I was just optimistic, thinking that it was just scar tissue that had broken up."

But, he said, an MRI showed the ligament "was like 3/4 torn."

Asked if team physician Dr. Thomas Gill had recommended surgery, Hill said, "With the ligament torn 3/4 of the way and to be able to pitch again at this level it's going to have to be something that's highly recommended."

Francona said surgery is "probably inevitable."

Hottovy, 29, is in the majors for the first time after being drafted by Boston in the fourth round in 2004.

Information from ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes and The Associated Press was used in this report.