Pirates Notebook: Red Sox's Matsuzaka impresses everybody
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BRADENTON, Fla. -- Daisuke Matsuzaka, Boston's $103 million pitcher, made quite the impression on the Pirates yesterday.
"I think he's worth every penny," Pirates leadoff hitter Chris Duffy said.
No Pirate would dispute that.
"He was as good as advertised," left fielder Jason Bay said. "He had four above-average pitches. With a pitcher, usually you can ignore one pitch, but he had everything going. That makes it tough."
The right-hander pitched 5 2/3 innings in Boston's 7-3 victory against the Pirates and allowed just one hit and one walk. He struck out seven and retired 15 of the final 16 batters he faced. Of his 92 pitches, 61 were strikes.
"He's pretty good, but it's hard for me to tell right now," said Adam LaRoche, who had the only hit off Matsuzaka. "Everybody I've faced looks like an All-Star. I'm not seeing the ball well."
LaRoche singled in the first inning to drive in Duffy, who drew a leadoff walk.
"He must have a dozen pitches," LaRoche said. "I asked [Boston catcher] Jason Varitek how many pitches he has, and he said, 'I don't know, but I have to use two hands [to flash signs]."
Matsuzaka, 26, resembles Hideo Nomo in size and delivery, including the hesitation with both hands over his head before throwing to the plate.
"It seems like the Japanese and Korean pitchers almost all have the same delivery with the stall at the top," LaRoche said.
"He has a lot of effective pitches," Duffy said. "It's not like you can see his off-speed stuff is OK, that his curveball is OK. All his pitches were plus.
"And you can't really look for a certain pitch in a certain situation. You can't sit on a pitch. You just have to see it and hit it. It seems to me the less thinking you do against him, the better off you'll be."
"He's got several pitches he can throw over the plate, and he's not afraid of any count," Pirates manager Jim Tracy said. "He's not the least bit shy of throwing any pitch in any count. If you can do that, you can keep hitters off-balance for a very long time. He's a very impressive pitcher."
Said a scout who has seen Matsuzaka pitch twice this spring: "He has a power arm with above-average secondary stuff. He needs to have command of his fastball because it doesn't have much movement on it. It's pretty straight. And he tends to throw a lot of pitches."
Matsuzaka will be Boston's third starter behind Curt Schilling and Josh Beckett.
First is worst
Pirates starter Tom Gorzelanny allowed two hits, five walks and four runs in his 4 2/3 innings.
The left-hander, who might wind up as the Pirates' fifth starter, had another rough first inning -- allowing runs in the first for the third consecutive start.
He walked Dustin Pedroia to begin the game. Two outs later, Manny Ramirez dropped a pop-fly single into right-center field, scoring Pedroia. J.D. Drew doubled in Ramirez.
Gorzelanny did not allow another hit, but he walked two batters with two outs in the fifth.
Dan Kolb relieved and walked another batter. He had a long duel with Drew, who fouled off five consecutive 3-2 pitches before sending a two-run single through the middle.
Gorzelanny in 15 innings this spring has yielded 11 walks and 16 earned runs.
"Tommy was much better [yesterday]," Tracy said. "I saw a much better sense of urgency. I saw more life to his pitches. I saw a lot of aggressiveness. It was very definitely good to see."
"There are a few things I have to work on mechanically, but they'll be fixed by the start of the season," Gorzelanny said. "I think the main objective of spring training is to get ready for the season."
Ronny Paulino accounted for the Pirates' second run with his third home run -- a team-leading 10th RBI -- in the sixth. Andrew McCutchen had a run-scoring double in the eighth.
Freddy Sanchez, out since March 6 with a sprained right knee, took more at-bats at the minor league complex yesterday and is fielding ground balls on a practice field. "He's very close [to returning]," Tracy said.
John Grabow, who has irritation in his left elbow, again threw off flat ground yesterday but from 90 feet rather than 60 feet. "Baby steps," Grabow said. "Baby steps." It will be another several days before Grabow will resume throwing off a mound.
The Pirates today play Toronto in Dunedin. Tony Armas Jr. is scheduled to start against Roy Halladay.
First Published March 22, 2007 12:00 am