Dice-K to head out on rehab assignment

BOSTON -- Bobby Valentine’s pregame media briefing touched on the ceremonial aspects of Friday’s 100th anniversary of Fenway Park, but he also had some injury updates.

Right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka, who had Tommy John surgery last June, will start a rehab assignment Monday in Salem, the Virginia home of one of the Sox’ Class A farm clubs.

“Dice-K has been feeling pretty good. He’s ready to start dealing with competition rather than rehabilitation,” said Valentine. “We’ll monitor his pitches. He won’t have any 30-pitch innings. He says he feels good.”

Valentine said Dice-K is ready for a 75-pitch workload. He will be in a five-day rotation, and could be making five rehab starts within the 30-day rehab period.

In another pitching development, left-hander Andrew Miller, who continues to struggle with inconsistency of location, will now be off any scheduled plans and will pitch as needed out of manager Arnie Beyeler’s Pawtucket Red Sox bullpen. The Sox had been dictating which days he would pitch, for how long and at what point in the game.

Valentine also elected to keep his rotation intact, despite Thursday’s off day. He could have used Lester on Sunday on normal rest for the finale against the Yankees, and shifted Daniel Bard, the scheduled Sunday starter. But Lester labored in his last start, throwing 80 pitches in two-plus innings in an 18-3 loss to Texas, so Valentine thought the left-hander could use the extra day of rest. Barring a rainout Sunday, Lester would be in line to start the road trip opener in Minnesota on Monday.

The batting order had a different look to it. Hot-hitting Ryan Sweeney (.424) was bumped up to the number two slot behind Mike Aviles, with Dustin Pedroia dropping down to third, Adrian Gonzalez to fourth and David Ortiz fifth, followed by Kevin Youkilis. Valentine thought the combination of Aviles’ aggressiveness and Sweeney’s patience, plus the type of stuff being served up by Yankee starter Ivan Nova, would help out the rest of the lineup Friday with those two at the top.