Dice-K For Opening Day

Japanese right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka will start the Boston Red Sox's regular-season opener against the Oakland Athletics in Toyko on March 25.

``I think that will be a ton of excitement,'' Boston manager Terry Francona said before Monday's exhibition game against the New York Yankees. ``I know he's honored.''

John Lester will pitch the second game of the two-game series with the Athletics in Japan on March 26.
Clay Buchholz and Tim Wakefield will be on the hill for exhibition games in Japan prior to the regular-season contests.
Matsuzaka was scheduled to return to camp Monday after missing the previous two days following the birth of his son Saturday.
``Those four guys have pretty much known that for probably a week,'' Francona said. ``Again, just because of Dice-K's situation. I don't want to say it was in limbo because Dice-K was prepared to pitch. There's just proper ways to do things. He went home, and things kind of broke anyway. He was all set to go.''
The Red Sox opted not to move up Wakefield.
``If you just go on deserving, and wins, losses, (Wakefield is) the guy that goes in there,'' Francona said. ``I think we kind of fought the urge just because when he's not in our rotation we're not as good a team. We want him to make his 30 starts.''
Right-hander Josh Beckett, who will not travel to Japan because of a back injury, threw from 120 feet Monday.
``Another good day,'' Francona said. ``So probably he's going to come along fairly quickly.''
Beckett could pitch in minor league games in Florida. It's not known when he will make his first regular-season start.
``It's all according to how he feels,'' Francona said. ``To do anything differently would be silly on my part. He's going to go as fast as he can, we know that.''
Outfielders Coco Crisp (groin) and Bobby Kielty (right calf) were scheduled to play in minor league games Monday.

 

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