Daisuke Matsuzaka may be gone…and to many in 2009 forgotten, but the Red Sox have continued to hold out hope that he’ll be “in the mix” come September and potentially the playoffs should the team make it into October ball.
This week, the old cliche gone but not forgotten has reared it’s ugly head. In an interview with a Japanese media outlet, Daisuke Matsuzaka took some dirty laundry public all but blaming the Red Sox strength and conditioning program for his injury and his struggles this season.
“If I’m forced to continue to train in this environment, I may no longer be able to pitch like I did in Japan,” Matsuzaka is quoted as saying in the article, according to WEEI.com’s translation. “The only reason why I managed to win games during the first and second years [in the United States] was because I used the savings of the shoulder I built up in Japan. Since I came to the Major Leagues, I couldn’t train in my own way, so now I’ve lost all those savings.” (via Extra Bases)
Alex Speier of WEEI.com who first broke the story does a great job of breaking down Daisuke’s argument via a translator:
“According to the story (to which WEEI.com was referred by Harvard Professor Andrew Gordon), Matsuzaka still laments the fact that the Sox do not permit him to practice nagekomi, or marathon throwing sessions. The pitcher believes that such between-starts work increases arm strength and the touch for breaking pitches. The article suggests that Matsuzaka exhausted his shoulder in the WBC because the Sox would not permit him to practice nagekomi in his build-up to the tournament.”
This seems to be less of a “WBC” related conversation as both sides may agree that the WBC caused undue fatigue on the Japanese right hander’s shoulder, and more a stare down on an overall strength and conditioning approach.
John Farrell took to the air with a detailed response on WEEI today (for highlights and transcript click here).
One thing is clear, the Red Sox and Daisuke Matsuzaka aren’t on the same page and it appears that Daisuke isn’t going to let this slide. Once again, from Alex Speier:
“Until now, many Japanese players have joined the majors, but they usually only lasted for two or three years. I realized from my own experience that this was not due to their individual abilities but because of the difference in training methods,” Matsuzaka told Yoshii. “If someone doesn’t act, the way people think in the Majors would never be changed. I want them to understand this, not only for my sake, but for the sake of future Japanese players in the Major Leagues…
Putting the tangible arguments aside, as I am not an expert on strength and conditioning, the fact that this conflict is taking place isn’t nearly as much a worry as when and in what format and tone. How this impacts Daisuke’s expected return to the club this season and his mental state when/if he does is to be questioned for sure. Any way you cut it, it’s a distraction that the Red Sox just don’t need to be aired in any public forum.