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Ailing Matsuzaka to miss next start for Red Sox

Boston Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka will skip his next turn in the rotation with weakness in his right shoulder, and the Japanese star could be headed to the disabled list.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona said the team had nothing official to announce. He said an MRI exam showed no structural damage, though there was a weakness and "we're going to have to fix it. It's going to have to be addressed."

Matsuzaka's day to pitch would have been Thursday, but that's also the day veteran pitcher John Smoltz is scheduled to make his return from injury.

"What we decided on going forward is he's not going to make his next start," Francona said.

After a 3-0 win over Atlanta on Saturday, Francona said that the team isn't making a move yet. The Red Sox have an off-day on Monday and Smoltz ready to pitch on Thursday.

Matsuzaka was 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA last season, his second in the majors after a whirlwind courtship that required the Red Sox to pay US$51.11 million for the right to negotiate with the Japanese star and another US$52 million for a six-year contract. But he is 1-5 with an 8.23 ERA this year.

Francona said he stayed late at the ballpark on Friday, meeting with General Manager Theo Epstein and pitching coach John Farrell. Before Saturday's game, Francona spoke to Matsuzaka.

"He came in, and when we told him it became kind of obvious," Francona said. "It was a very good meeting. We needed to get him looked at."

Matsuzaka was the MVP of the World Baseball Classic this spring for the second straight time after going 3-0 with a 2.45 ERA in 14 2/3 innings over three starts. Francona said he wasn't the same pitcher when he returned to spring training.


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