March 3, 2007


It didn't take long to get in a zone (Dan Shaughnessy, March 3, 2007, Boston Globe)

The Daisuke Matsuzaka Era officially began last night when John Henry's $103 million mound investment threw his first pitches in a game in a Red Sox uniform. We got to see that hesitation at the top of his windup. We got to see him pitch from the stretch and get out of a jam. We got to see him throw breaking pitches that seemed to defy the laws of physics. We even got to see him surrender a base hit to a college kid who was last seen punting against Navy in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, N.C.

Facing the Boston College Eagles, who have been hitting in the indoor bubble in Chestnut Hill, Matsuzaka dazzled a sellout crowd and a live television audience back home in New England. In two innings of shutout ball, he threw 25 pitches, 19 for strikes. He gave up one hit, a first-pitch double to leadoff man Johnny Ayers, struck out three, and looked about as good as a pitcher can look March 2 against a college team. He was the winning pitcher in the Sox' 9-1 victory.

"I was not nervous at all," said Matsuzaka, through an interpreter.

"He looked good," said Jason Varitek, who will be tethered to the Japanese righthander between now and October. "He seems as poised as anybody. He's got a happy personality about him."

What a kick: Matsuzaka shines after leadoff hit: Punter's double lone blemish (Jeff Horrigan, 3//03/07, Boston Herald)

On Feb. 15, a Japanese reporter posed a somewhat odd question to Daisuke Matsuzaka in the midst of a press conference by asking what pitch he planned to throw first in his spring training debut.

The former Seibu Lions star paused for a second and grinned.

"I will throw a fastball, and I would like my first batter, if he's listening, to try not to hit the ball," Matsuzaka said through a translator.

Johnny Ayers must have been at class in Chestnut Hill that afternoon, because the Boston College leadoff hitter stunned Matsuzaka, the Red Sox [team stats] and, undoubtedly, all of New England by slamming his first-pitch fastball down the left-field line for an opposite-field double to open his spring training debut last night.

Okajima shines in 'dark' (Jeff Horrigan, 3/03/07, Boston Herald)
Hideki Okajima said he had no problem serving as the appetizer before the Daisuke Matsuzaka main course yesterday afternoon at City of Palms Park.

The 31-year-old left-handed pitcher, who signed a two-year contract with the Red Sox [team stats] after 12 successful seasons in Japan, made his spring training debut with a perfect inning of relief in a 9-6, 10-inning loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, just hours before Matsuzaka's high-profile start against Boston College. Okajima retired all three batters he faced in the fifth inning and said afterward he is quite comfortable being overshadowed by his more prominent countryman.

"I am willing to be a hero in the dark," he profoundly said through a translator.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 3, 2007 7:53 AM

So his first appearance was against minor league scrubs in batting practice, and his second is against college kids, one of whom tees off on his fastball?

What are the Sawx worried about? They'll have to let him face big leaguers eventually, right?

The first pitch fastball thing doesn't bode well either. Sounds like he's the righty version of Jamie Moyers, relying on junk to keep hitters off balance, and maybe hoping to sneak a fastball in there now and again. Not what was advertized.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at March 3, 2007 10:59 AM

It pains me to have to agree with a DamnYankees fan, but Jim beat me to it. (Nothing wrong with Jamie Moyer, either. Wish the Mariners had him back in their rotation. But he ain't being hyped as the guy who will hand the game over easy saves that Joel Piniero can proceed to lose, either.)

Go Blue Jays!

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at March 3, 2007 2:14 PM

It's exactly what was expected. None of the Asians have had dominating fastballs.

Posted by: oj at March 3, 2007 2:47 PM