Valentine: Dice-K isn't 'all that close'

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, whose minor league rehab assignment for Tommy John surgery expires May 23, isn’t close to being ready to be promoted to the major leagues, Boston manager Bobby Valentine said Wednesday.

Matsuzaka is set to make a minor league start for Triple-A Pawtucket on Thursday in Durham, N.C., and another on May 22.

During Boston’s last homestand, Matsuzaka spent some time around his teammates at Fenway and spoke at length with Valentine about his progress. It’s been less than a year (June 10) since Matsuzaka had Tommy John reconstructive surgery on his right elbow, and even though he’s nearly a month into a minor league rehab stint, both pitcher and manager apparently agree it could be a while before he’s ready for a major league mound.

“I don’t think he’s all that close to be pitching in the major leagues,” Valentine said. “He might take a big step, but not until he’s ready. It’s not the calendar that will dictate when he pitches in the major leagues.”

If Matsuzaka is not added to the major league roster when his rehab assignment expires, the Red Sox could place him back on the DL and start the process all over again.

“We can’t say when the 30-day clock’s done now the guy has to get into a major league game and get whacked,” Valentine said. “It doesn’t sound right to me.”

After his most recent outing, Matsuzaka said he’s not happy with his mechanics. That has been his focus with Pawtucket.

“I’m not sure he’s put his elbow situation behind him yet,” Valentine said. “I don’t think he understands where he is with his elbow, which is very important.”

Based on their conversations, Valentine said, he doesn’t think Matsuzaka will come to him tomorrow and say, “Bring on the Yankees.”

The confidence issue Matsuzaka must deal with is whether he will change his delivery or revert back to how he was throwing when he first suffered the elbow injury.

“It’s a very confusing state,” Valentine said. “Until he figures that out totally in his mind, he won’t be in competition. We want him to be here, and not only healthy here, we want him to be able to be in the competition here.”

At this point, it seems unlikely Matsuzaka will be ready to be promoted May 23.

“The conversations I’ve had with him he’s been honest and as straightforward as he can possibly be,” Valentine said.