Matsuzaka sharp in spring training debut, helping Red Sox beat Twins 8-3
FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP)—Daisuke Matsuzaka’s spring training debut featured much less fanfare than last year.
Matsuzaka threw 12 pitches, eight for strikes, while facing the minimum six batters in a scoreless outing. He gave up singles to Denard Span in the first and Delmon Young in the second, but got Michael Cuddyer and Mike Redmond to ground into double plays.
Boston’s Kevin Youkilis hit a two-run homer off Kevin Slowey, and Jason Varitek added a solo shot for a 3-0 lead in the fourth. George Kottaras, who replaced Varitek at catcher, hit a three-run homer in the ninth.
Matsuzaka and Twins starter Boof Bonser looked sharp, though each went to work under different circumstances than a year ago.
When Matsuzaka pitched in a Red Sox uniform for the first time in 2007, a media contingent of more than 100 descended on Fort Myers, broadcasting his game against Boston College live on TV in Japan.
This season, the number of reporters following Matsuzaka has dwindled to about 30, and he doesn’t mind at all.
“Being watched all the time is a source of stress,” Matsuzaka said through a translator. “Knowing that the pairs of eyes have been reduced makes it a lot more comfortable.”
The right-hander was 15-12 with a 4.40 ERA during his rookie season, striking out 201 batters in 204 2-3 innings. He led all rookies in wins, innings and strikeouts, and finished fourth in AL Rookie of the Year voting.
Bonser, looking to solidify his spot in Minnesota’s rotation, lost 29 pounds from a year ago after seeking the advice of a nutritionist and watching his diet.
The 6-foot-4 Bonser hopes the weight loss will help him pitch deeper into games. He didn’t have any complete games last season, finishing 8-12 with a 5.10 ERA and 136 strikeouts in 173 innings.
“I feel a lot better, actually,” Bonser said. “Everything feels easier.”
Coco Crisp, hoping to keep his starting spot in center field, had a broken-bat RBI single for Boston.