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Matsuzaka marks Indians spring debut with two shutout innings

Kyodo

Daisuke Matsuzaka began his fight to make the opening day roster Sunday, pitching two scoreless innings in his first spring appearance for the Cleveland Indians.

Under strong winds in the surprising cold against the Cincinnati Reds, Matsuzaka came on in the third, not allowing a hit but walking one and hitting one batter with a pitch.

The Indians won 3-0.

Matsuzaka, who is on a minor league contract ahead of what will be his seventh major league season should he make the team, was originally scheduled to pitch only one inning but asked to stay on the mound to face Reds sluggers Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce.

Matsuzaka was anything but happy with his outing.

“I think I can pitch better than how I actually threw,” the 32-year-old right-hander said. “You find out how good you really are by going up against the best hitters.

“I was out there telling myself that I could have days like this during the season. I was no good. I felt much too different from the way I’ve been feeling in the bullpen.”

Two Japanese pitchers made their major league spring debut, Kyuji Fujikawa with the Chicago Cubs and Hiroyuki Kobayashi with the Los Angeles Angels.

Former star Hanshin Tigers closer Fujikawa struck out two and gave up a hit in a scoreless inning against the San Francisco Giants while Kobayashi allowed a run in two innings of work.

“It was pretty cold today, but I thought I did all right,” Fujikawa said. “I just hope to build on what I achieved in Japan, develop a new style. That’s the approach I want to take into the games this season.”