Dice-K has tightness in neck; could hit DL

Daisuke Matsuzaka says he had tightness in his neck in the days leading to Monday's ugly start. AP Photo/Ben Margot

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Daisuke Matsuzaka, who faced only nine batters and recorded just three outs in his start Monday against the Oakland Athletics, said he experienced tightness in his neck in the days leading up to the start and he may wind up on the disabled list.

Matsuzaka yielded two home runs before getting the hook in a 6-1 loss to the A’s.

“Daisuke obviously didn’t have his good stuff tonight,” Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. “He went out with a crink in his neck and we were hoping he was going to work through it.”

Matsuzaka said the issue is in the same location that caused issues during spring training and flared up again in May while he was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.

“Leading up to this start, my neck tightened up a little bit and I ended up not being able to throw a bullpen,” Matsuzaka said through a translator. “I focused on getting myself in condition to be able to pitch tonight and I went out there, but I ended up not being able to get my arm through.”

Valentine said the timing with next week’s All Star break could result in a trip to the disabled list for Matsuzaka. The Red Sox currently have 10 players on the DL, and for the season, 19 players have totaled 21 stints on the DL.

“I just spoke to Bobby about what needs to be done and I think a decision will be made sooner than later,” Matsuzaka said.

Valentine said the team has known about the issue for a couple of days but thought it was under control enough for Matsuzaka to pitch. The team didn’t have a plan in place to scratch the right-hander.

“A couple of days ago it was stiff but it seemed like he worked through it,” Valentine said. “He said he was going to be all right to pitch. We asked him pretty consistently.”

Matsuzaka (0-3) was tagged for five earned runs on four hits and two walks in one-plus inning. It matched the shortest start of his career and was the third time he lasted just one inning. The most recent time also came in Oakland, on April 14, 2009.

The Red Sox took a 1-0 lead in the first inning and Matsuzaka retired the first two batters in the bottom of the inning. But former Red Sox outfielder Josh Reddick blasted the first pitch he saw into the left-field stands for a game-tying home run.

“My body wasn’t in the condition it probably should have been,” Matsuzaka said. “Despite the home run in the first inning, I got out of that inning and I thought I’d be able to fight through a few more innings.”

The second inning went downhill quickly. Seth Smith led off with a double and rookie catcher Derek Norris walked. Another former teammate of Matsuzaka's, Brandon Moss, then crushed a first-pitch fastball for a home run.

“They got the three-run homer and that’s all they needed,” Valentine said.

Matsuzaka allowed a single to Brandon Inge that brought Valentine to the mound for a chat. When Cliff Pennington was walked on four pitches, Valentine returned to the mound to make the pitching change.

“I went out there and asked (Matsuzaka) if he could get through it and he said, ‘yeah’,” Valentine said. “Obviously it didn’t look good.”