Matsuzaka didn't make it to the second inning Tuesday night against the Oakland Athletics, giving up five runs and five hits on 43 pitches. After going 18-3 last year, Dice-K is 0-1 with a 12.79 ERA this season, yet another worry for manager Terry Francona during his club's unimpressive start.
"Our biggest concern is to keep him healthy and productive," Francona said. "At the moment, it doesn't seem like we're there with him. ... It wasn't coming out very crisp. It looks like he needs to be built back up. We want him to be able to be Dice-K."
The Japanese star won three games while earning the MVP award at the World Baseball Classic this spring, but his outstanding performance for the WBC champions might have cost the Red Sox. Francona thinks the extra work has caused trouble early in the regular season.
After Tuesday's game lasted more than four hours and ended with Oakland's 6-5 victory, the Red Sox said Matsuzaka had "arm fatigue." Speaking through an interpreter, Matsuzaka claimed he felt fine.
"Not in particular," Matsuzaka said through a translator, when asked if he had any physical problems. "I haven't had the chance to speak to Francona yet, but for me personally, I think I'm OK."
Matsuzaka will be examined by Boston's team doctor on Friday when the club returns to Fenway Park. The Red Sox recalled Hunter Jones, a 25-year-old left-handed reliever with no major league experience, to replace him on the roster.
Boston's pitching woes also include Jon Lester's 0-2 start and Josh Beckett's six-game suspension for throwing a pitch near the head of the Los Angeles Angels' Bobby Abreu. Beckett is appealing the ban, which was handed down Tuesday.
After five Red Sox relievers held the A's scoreless for 10 innings following Matsuzaka's meltdown, reliever Javier Lopez walked the bases loaded and lost Tuesday's game on a two-out infield single by Travis Buck.
Boston had lost six of seven heading into Wednesday's series finale with knuckleballer Tim Wakefield on the mound.