FUKUOKA – Daisuke Matsuzaka is expected to make his first start with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks’ top team in nearly a year in a preseason match.
Hawks pitching coach Shinji Kurano suggested on Wednesday that the 35-year-old Matsuzaka could start during the team’s away trip between March 15-17.
Matsuzaka has yet to pitch in a regular-season game with the first team since returning from the major leagues last season. He underwent surgery on his right shoulder in August.
He last played in a preseason match last year against the Chiba Lotte Marines on March 17.
Matsuzaka threw a simulated game at the Hawks’ indoor practice facility in Chikugo City in Fukuoka Prefecture on Wednesday, tossing 62 pitches to right and left-handed batters. He gave up four hits while walking one and striking out one.
“I’ve been thinking I would like to play in a preseason game if I have the opportunity,” said Matsuzaka.
Matsuzaka pitched in a game for the first time in 288 days last Thursday, throwing two perfect innings for the Hawks’ Western League farm team against the Doosan Bears of South Korea.