Matsuzaka tosses two perfect innings in first appearance since last May


Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched in a game for the first time in 288 days and had two perfect innings for the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks on Thursday in their preseason games against the Doosan Bears of South Korea.

The 35-year-old, yet to pitch in a regular-season game with the first team since returning from the major leagues last season, underwent surgery on his right shoulder in August.

He was dropped from the season-opening pitching rotation last week, but excelled on Thursday in his first outing since May 20, 2015, when he appeared for the Hawks’ Western League farm team.

Matsuzaka retired two batters on groundouts and another on a flyout to left in the first inning, and remained untroubled with his first two batters in the second. He then threw from the stretch and struck out the third looking with an inside fastball.

“It’s been quite a while (since I pitched in game) out so I got a little nervous,” Matsuzaka said after his 20-pitch outing. “There’s a part of me wanting to throw a bit more.”

He wasn’t satisfied logging only 141 kph with his slider that he he’s been working on, but manager Kimiyasu Kudo remained cautious of rushing him.

“I feel it starts from here,” Kudo said. “We have to be careful not to miss those tiny changes (to his body) not to repeat the same thing as last season.