NAGOYA – Chunichi Dragons pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka took leave from his Central League club on Sunday in order to treat a right shoulder injury sustained when an overzealous fan pulled his arm last week.
Matsuzaka departed the Dragon’s preseason camp in Chatan, Okinawa Prefecture last Thursday, and will have an examination by the team’s medical staff on Tuesday after returning to Nagoya. The right-hander will likely miss the team’s season opener next month.
“Obviously it hurts the team,” manager Tsuyoshi Yoda said in Urasoe, where the team is holding practice games.
The Dragons skipper said he knew “to some degree” when Matsuzaka could be expected to make a full recovery, but declined to make any further statements.
Matsuzaka suffered inflammation in his throwing shoulder after a fan pulled his arm during a meet-and-greet event at spring training. He left camp Thursday to seek a second medical opinion, and opted to return to Nagoya for treatment after consulting with the team Saturday.
The 38-year-old former Boston Red Sox pitcher has yet to discuss the incident.
On Saturday, club spokesman Kazuo Nishiyama said the team deemed Matsuzaka has the fastest chance at a full recovery if all efforts are concentrated in Nagoya.
“There is no other diagnosis than right shoulder inflammation,” Nishiyama said. “We’ve been told he can resume throwing practice if the inflammation goes away.”
Matsuzaka went 6-4 with a 3.74 ERA over 55 innings last season as Nippon Professional Baseball’s 2018 Comeback Player of the Year.
He returned to Japan from the major leagues in 2015 with SoftBank Hawks, but had surgery on the same shoulder that summer. He pitched just one inning for the Hawks in three seasons before he was released a year ago, and signed with Chunichi after a tryout.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5