Daisuke Matsuzaka is back in Japan, and if Boston Red Sox brass were slipped a dose of truth serum, they’d love for him never to return. It’s one thing to deal with a headache. It’s another to pay $103 million for it.
With his right elbow pained by a sprained ulnar collateral ligament – the one that when damaged badly enough results in Tommy John surgery, and may yet do so for him – Daisuke sits on the disabled list for the fifth time in two seasons. Among his shoulder, elbow and forearm, he’s faced problems with every part of his arm. The only thing left is his hand, and as many times as he’s raised a figurative middle finger at the organization, it’s a shock he hasn’t hurt that, too.
Matsuzaka’s tack with the Red Sox, according to sources inside and outside the organization, has been simple: Ignore what they want and do what he wants. While manager Terry Francona continues to stick up for Matsuzaka publicly – “Dice has been really good about this,” he said – the Red Sox’s regret is tempered only by the expiration date of his deal drawing nearer by the day.
When Boston dropped a $51.1 million bid for the rights to negotiate with Matsuzaka, then in late 2006 handed him a six-year, $52 million contract, they expected an ace. They got an ACE: Another Chubby Easterner, Hideki Irabu 2.0, a disappointment, a waste of money.
If Matsuzaka can avoid Tommy John, it’s more of the same. As much as their lack of pitching depth frightens them, the Red Sox also grew frustrated at Matsuzaka giving up seven runs in one start and twirling 15 innings of two-hit, shutout ball in his next pair. That Daisuke whets Boston’s appetite enough where it deals, begrudgingly, with his diva behavior. One source called him “stubborn,” another “pigheaded” and one more, in the most chilling assessment, “lazy.” That source added: “They’re tired of his act.”