Dice-K to begin strengthening program

BOSTON -- Boston right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka will head to Florida on Monday to begin a spring training-like strengthening program that the Red Sox hope will get him back to the big leagues later this season.

Matsuzaka was 1-5 with an 8.23 ERA and an opponents' batting average of .378 before going on the disabled list June 21. He's been out with a shoulder strain, and the Red Sox have said he hasn't been right since helping Japan win the World Baseball Classic.

"We're going to really strengthen his shoulder and work on his whole body," Boston manager Terry Francona said before Friday's game against Seattle.

The Japanese star was 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA and a major league-best .211 batting average by opponents last season, but his velocity off and his control erratic at times this season.

"He's worked hard while we were gone [on a nine-game road trip] without a baseball," said Francona, who wasn't sure how long Matsuzaka will be in Florida. He said there is no timetable for his return to the Red Sox.

In March, Matsuzaka repeated as MVP in the second WBC, but missed much of Boston's spring training. He was sidelined with a mild right shoulder strain from April 15 to May 22.

He's in the third season of a six-year, $52 million contract he signed after the Red Sox outbid the rest baseball and paid $51.11 million to negotiate with him.