As the Mets ease into spring training, on just the fifth official day for pitchers and catchers, it is apparent that Daisuke Matsuzaka is working off his own schedule. He began throwing on Jan. 1. When Matsuzaka long tosses with his counterparts in the outfield on Field 5 at the Tradition Field facility, he stands nearly twice as far apart from his throwing partner than the others. His accelerated progress was most visible during his bullpen session Wednesday. While the other pitchers had left the area, and even the coaches walked away, Matsuzaka remained — throwing alone on the far end. The 33-year-old Japanese right-hander said he had only thrown 50 pitches, but his preparation is so far ahead of other pitchers — and he is given so much autonomy — that Mets manager Terry Collins would not have been surprised if he had thrown 150. It is part of the mandate Collins gave Matsuzaka heading into this season. After re-signing with the Mets on a minor-league contract last month, he entered spring training in a competition for the fifth starter role with John Lannan and Jenrry Mejia. To get him prepared, Collins told him simply to follow his own regimen. "You know yourself better than anybody," Collins said. "You know what you gotta do to get ready. You do it and I’ll back you up." Having worked in Japan for two years, Collins is familiar enough with the culture of pitching in the country that the aim is to work harder in order to make the game easier. "If he threw 100 (pitches), I wouldn’t be shocked," Collins said of his bullpens. "If he threw 75, I wouldn’t be shocked. If he threw 150, I wouldn’t be surprised." Already, Matsuzaka said, he is ready to throw in a game. He went into the offseason with the goal to enter spring training able to pitch to hitters, and he has achieved it. He now spends his time refining.
Mets pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka already in regular season form
Newark Star-Ledger | Feb 20