Injuries kept Daisuke Matsuzaka from being a star in the major leagues. Now a journeyman in his native Japan, the right-hander is out of action again after a bizarre incident.
The Associated Press reported this week that Matsuzaka, 38, was shut down by his current team, the Chunichi Dragons, after an “overzealous admirer” yanked his pitching arm while pursuing an autograph at a team event in Okinawa. The Dragons say Matsuzaka is dealing with shoulder pain and inflammation in the arm.
The fact Matsuzaka is still pitching may surprise observers who thought he was destined for a shortened career after being used heavily during his prep career in Japan.
He was mostly healthy his first two MLB seasons after signing a six-year, $52 million free-agent contract with the Red Sox in the 2006 offseason. He made 32 starts in 2007 and 29 in 2008 for Boston. He would not make more than 25 starts in a season after that.
Elbow injuries led to Tommy John surgery in mid-2011. Matsuzaka pitched in parts of three seasons in the majors (2012-14) after the procedure but could not get regular work until he became a swingman for the Mets in 2014.
“Dice-K” did not pitch in 2015 or 2017 and threw just 21 innings total in 2016, counting a winter ball stint in Puerto Rico. He finally came back to make 11 starts (55 1/3 innings) for Chunichi last season, earning Comeback Player of the Year honors in the process.
Now the comeback is on hold, and maybe over, depending on the severity of the injury.