Matsuzaka likely to debut vs. Eagles
By Jeff Horrigan/ Red Sox Notebook
Boston Herald Sports Reporter
Monday, February 19, 2007 - Updated: 09:06 AM EST
FORT MYERS - The Red Sox [team stats]’ formerly meaningless exhibition game with Boston College is likely to be the most important sporting event to an entire nation this year.
That nation, however, will be Japan. Terry Francona announced yesterday that Daisuke Matsuzaka will most likely start against the Eagles in the March 2 exhibition game (6:05 p.m.) at City Of Palms Park. The former Seibu Lions star, who threw off the bullpen mound for the first time yesterday at the Sox’ minor-league complex, is being lined up to face BC, followed by a start against the Florida Marlins on March 6 in Jupiter, Fla.
“We don’t look too far in advance, but I think the first week the starters will know where they are,” Francona said. “We don’t necessarily announce that far in advance because of weather and things like that.”
Pitching coach John Farrell told the Japanese media over the weekend that if there are no setbacks this spring, Matsuzaka could pitch the third game of the regular season in Kansas City on April 5. He’d then be on schedule to make his Fenway Park [map] debut on April 11 vs. the Seattle Mariners, providing Francona uses all five starters in the first two weeks, despite two scheduled off days. Barring injuries, Curt Schilling [stats] and Josh Beckett [stats] will most likely work the first two games on April 2 and 4, respectively, vs. the Royals.
Schilling, who does not like to face AL East opponents during spring training due to the possibility of overexposing his pitches to teams that each play the Sox 18 or 19 times during the regular season, said he suspected that wouldn’t be a concern for Matsuzaka.
“With the stuff I see him throwing and the games I’ve watched him pitch, it’s going to take a whole lot more than two or three times to get used to him,” Schilling said. “He’s got such an incredible mix of pitches and he has such good command.
“That’s why he’s an ace-in-the-making, because he’s going to be able to win some games when he’s not locating his fastball or doesn’t have his curveball,” he continued. “He’s like Pedro (Martinez) that he has multiple strikeout pitches. Those are the type of guys who can go out and not feel good and still dominate a game.”
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