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Daisuke Matsuzaka

Daisuke Matsuzaka

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is a Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

ese professional baseball
Baseball
Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams of nine players each. The aim is to score runs by hitting a thrown ball with a bat and touching a series of four bases arranged at the corners of a ninety-foot diamond...

 pitcher
Pitcher
In baseball, the pitcher is the player who throwsthe baseball from the pitcher's mound toward the catcher to begin each play, with the goal of retiring a batter, who attempts to either make contact with the pitched ball or draw a walk. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the...

 with the Boston Red Sox
Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox are a professional baseball team based in Boston, Massachusetts, and a member of Major League Baseball’s American League Eastern Division. Founded in as one of the American League's eight charter franchises, the Red Sox's home ballpark has been Fenway Park since . The "Red Sox"...

 of Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

 in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. He previously played for the Seibu Lions
Seibu Lions
The are a professional baseball team in Japan's Pacific League based west of Tokyo in Tokorozawa, Saitama. Before 1979, they were based in Fukuoka in Kyushu. The team is owned by a subsidiary of Prince Hotels, which in turn is owned by the Seibu Group...

 in Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

's Pacific League
Pacific League
The or is one of the two professional baseball leagues constituting Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan. The winner of the league championship competes against the winner in the Central League for the annual Japan Series...

. He was selected the MVP
Most Valuable Player
In sports, a Most Valuable Player award is an honor typically bestowed upon the best performing player or players on a specific team, in an entire league, or for a particular contest or series of contests...

 of the inaugural
2006 World Baseball Classic
---------Pool B:-------------Pool C:-------------Pool D:-------------Pool 1:-----------------Pool 2:-------------Finals:-Semifinals:-Final:-Final standings:...

 and the second
2009 World Baseball Classic
The 2009 World Baseball Classic was an international baseball competition. It is the only international baseball tournament to feature a large number of players from the major leagues of North America and Asia. It began on March 5, 2009, and finished March 23, 2009.Japan emerged victorious for the...

 World Baseball Classic
World Baseball Classic
The World Baseball Classic is an international baseball tournament sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation and created by Major League Baseball , the Major League Baseball Players Association , and other professional baseball leagues and their players associations around the world...

, and is an Olympic
Olympic Games
The Olympic Games is a major international event featuring summer and winter sports, in which thousands of athletes participate in a variety of competitions. The Olympic Games have come to be regarded as the world’s foremost sports competition where more than 200 nations participate...

 bronze medal
Bronze medal
A bronze medal is a medal awarded to the third place finisher of contests such as the Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, etc. The practice of awarding bronze third place medals began at the 1904 Olympic Games in St...

ist.

Early life


Matsuzaka was born on September 13, 1980, in Kanita
Kanita, Aomori
was a town located in Higashitsugaru District in northern Aomori Prefecture, Japan.Kanita Town was located on the east coast of Tsugaru Peninsula bordering on Mutsu Bay. The area was part of Hirosaki Domain during the Edo period. After the Meiji Restoration, Kanita Village was created on April 1,...

, Aomori Prefecture
Aomori Prefecture
is a prefecture of Japan located in the Tōhoku Region. The capital is the city of Aomori.- History :Until the Meiji Restoration, the area of Aomori prefecture was known as Mutsu Province....

. He was named after Japanese high school star pitcher Daisuke Araki. Growing up in Koto
Koto, Tokyo
is one of the 23 special wards of Tokyo, Japan. As of 2008, the ward has an estimated population of 442,271 and a population density of 11,070 persons per km². The total area is 39.48 km². The ward refers to itself as Kōtō City in English....

, Tokyo
Tokyo
, ; officially , is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan. Tokyo is the capital of Japan, the center of the Greater Tokyo Area, and the largest metropolitan area of Japan. It is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family...

, he studied kendo
Kendo
, meaning "Way of The Sword", is a modern Japanese martial art of sword-fighting based on traditional Japanese swordsmanship, or kenjutsu.Kendo is a physically and mentally challenging activity that combines strong martial arts values with sport-like physical elements.-Practitioners:Practitioners...

 from the age of five to nine and began playing organized baseball when he was in 3rd grade.

High school career


After excelling at the Little League
Little League
Little League Baseball and Softball is a non-profit organization in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania, United States which organizes local youth baseball and softball leagues throughout the U.S...

 and junior high level, Daisuke Matsuzaka was admitted into Yokohama High School, a baseball powerhouse, in the spring of 1996. By his second of three years, he had developed into the school's ace pitcher. Despite his early success, he would experience a setback that summer when he allowed a go-ahead wild pitch
Wild pitch
In baseball, a wild pitch is charged against a pitcher when his pitch is too high, too short, or too wide of home plate for the catcher to control with ordinary effort, thereby allowing a baserunner, perhaps even the batter-runner on strike three or ball four, to advance.A wild pitch usually...

 in the semi-final game of the Kanagawa Prefecture
Kanagawa Prefecture
is a prefecture located in the southern Kantō region of Japan. The capital is Yokohama. Kanagawa is part of the Greater Tokyo Area.-History:The prefecture has some archaeological sites going back to the Jōmon period...

 preliminary round of the National High School Baseball Championship
National High School Baseball Championship
The National High School Baseball Championship of Japan, commonly known as "Summer Kōshien" , is an annual nationwide high school baseball tournament...

 (Summer Koshien).

During that offseason, his fastballs first began to regularly sit around 87 miles per hour (38.9 m/s). After pitching his school to the championship of the National High School Baseball Invitational Tournament
National High School Baseball Invitational Tournament
The National High School Baseball Invitational Tournament of Japan, commonly known as "Spring Kōshien" or "Senbatsu" , is an annual high school baseball tournament....

 (Spring Koshien
National High School Baseball Invitational Tournament
The National High School Baseball Invitational Tournament of Japan, commonly known as "Spring Kōshien" or "Senbatsu" , is an annual high school baseball tournament....

), Matsuzaka set his aim on the 1998 Summer Koshien and eventually led his school to the championship.

In the quarterfinal of the 1998 Summer Koshien, Matsuzaka threw 250 pitches in 17 innings in a win over PL Gakuen. (The previous day he had thrown a 148-pitch complete game shutout.) The next day, despite trailing 6–0 in the top of the eighth inning, the team miraculously won the game after scoring 7 runs in the final two innings (four in the eighth and three in the ninth). He started the game in left field, but came in as a reliever in the ninth inning to record the win in 15 pitches. In the final, he threw a no-hitter
No-hitter
A no-hitter is a baseball game in which one team has no hits. In Major League Baseball, the team must be without hits during the entire game, and the game must be at least nine innings. A pitcher who prevents the opposing team from achieving a hit is said to have "thrown a no-hitter"...

, the second ever in a final. This performance garnered him the attention of many scouts
Scout (sport)
In professional sports, scouts are trained talent evaluators who travel extensively for the purposes of watching athletes play their chosen sports and determining whether their set of skills and talents represent what is needed by the scout's organization...

.

1998 draft



After graduating from high school, he was taken by the Seibu Lions with the first pick of the 1998 draft, although both the Colorado Rockies
Colorado Rockies
The Colorado Rockies are a Major League Baseball team based in Denver, Colorado. Established in 1991, they started play in 1993 and are in the West Division of the National League. The team is named after the Rocky Mountains...

 and Arizona Diamondbacks
Arizona Diamondbacks
The Arizona Diamondbacks are a professional baseball team based in Phoenix. They play in the West Division of Major League Baseball's National League. From 1998 to the present, they have played in Chase Field...

 of the American Major Leagues also recruited him. At first, Matsuzaka stated that he wanted to play for the Yokohama BayStars
Yokohama BayStars
The are a professional baseball team in the Japanese Central League. Home field is the Yokohama Stadium, located in central Yokohama. The clubhouse is located near the stadium....

, and, if he could not, he would then go to work for a company and after which choose the team of his choice through the reverse-draft (gyaku-shimei) system. That changed however, when the manager of the Lions, Osamu Higashio
Osamu Higashio
Osamu Higashio is a former Japanese baseball player who played in the Japanese professional leagues from 1969-1988. He also was manager of the Seibu Lions from 1995-2001.-Professional career:...

, an accomplished pitcher in his own right, met with Matsuzaka for dinner and gave him his (Higashio's) winning ball for career win number 200. Matsuzaka accepted it and allowed himself to be drafted by the Lions.

Seibu Lions (1999–2006)

Awards in Japan
Awards 19992000200120022003200420052006
Rookie of the Year Award
Nippon Professional Baseball Rookie of the Year Award
The Nippon Professional Baseball Rookie of the Year Award is given to one player in each league of Central League and Pacific League.-Central League:-Pacific League:-See also:*Nippon Professional Baseball#Awards*Baseball awards#Japan...

Eiji Sawamura Award |
Best Nine Award
Best Nine Award
The Best Nine Award is awarded annually to the best player at each position in both the Central League and Pacific League of Japanese professional baseball as determined by a pool of journalists.-History:...

Gold Glove
Mitsui Golden Glove Award
The Mitsui Golden Glove Award, sponsored by Japan's Mitsui Group, is annually awarded to nine fielders in Japan's professional baseball leagues by the Nippon Professional Baseball Association. The players are selected based on votes by TV, radio, and newspaper journalists with over 5 years...

 
Led League in Strikeouts |
Led League in Wins
Led League in ERA
Earned run average
In baseball statistics, earned run average is the mean of earned runs given up by a pitcher per nine innings pitched. It is determined by dividing the number of earned runs allowed by the number of innings pitched and multiplying by nine...

|


Matsuzaka won his first official pro game in his first start of the 1999 season against the Nippon Ham Fighters at the Tokyo Dome
Tokyo Dome
Tokyo Dome is a 55,000-seat baseball stadium located in Bunkyo Ward of Tokyo, Japan.The stadium opened for business on March 17, 1988. It was built on the site of the Velodrome which was next door to the site of the predecessor ballpark, Kōrakuen Stadium...

. His first career strikeout came against Atsushi Kataoka in the first inning on a high fastball clocked at 155 km/h. He won the game, but he also gave up the first home run in the game to Michihiro Ogasawara
Michihiro Ogasawara
Michihiro Ogasawara is a Japanese professional baseball player. He currently plays first base for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan's Central League . He played with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters from to .-Career:Ogasawara is one of the most consistent hitters in Japanese baseball...

 of the Nippon Ham Fighters.

On May 16, 1999, when Matsuzaka was in his rookie season at age 18, he first faced Ichiro Suzuki
Ichiro Suzuki
, usually known simply as is a Major League Baseball right fielder for the Seattle Mariners. Ichiro has established a number of batting records, including the sport's single-season record for hits with 262...

, a player for the Orix Bluewave at the time, and recorded 3 strikeouts in 3 at bats with a walk: the first on a fast-ball looking, the next on a high slider swinging, then last on a high fastball swinging. Matsuzaka states that this game was the moment he started to believe that he "belonged" in pro baseball. However, Ichiro would get a bit of revenge on Matsuzaka by hitting his 100th career home run off him in July of that year (footage below).

Matsuzaka started in the All-Star game as a rookie in 1999. He struck out Takuro Ishii
Takuro Ishii
Takuro Ishii is a Japanese professional baseball player. He currently plays for Hiroshima Toyo Carp. He bats left-handed and throws right-handed....

 and Takanori Suzuki of the Bay Stars before number three hitter Yoshinobu Takahashi
Yoshinobu Takahashi
Yoshinobu Takahashi is a Japanese professional baseball player from Chiba, Japan. He currently plays right field for the Yomiuri Giants, and is one of the most well-known players in Japanese baseball. He graduated from Keio University.A superb contact hitter, he is also known for his exemplary...

 of the Giants managed to make contact and fly out to left field.

In his first professional season in 1999, Matsuzaka had 16 win
Win (baseball)
In professional baseball, there are two types of decisions: a win and a loss . In each game, one pitcher on the winning team is awarded a win and one pitcher on the losing team is given a loss in their respective statistics. These pitchers are collectively known as the pitchers of record. Only...

s and 5 losses as the team ace, and was voted Rookie of the Year. Another rookie pitcher in the rival Central League
Central League
The or is one the two professional baseball leagues that constitute Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan. The winner of the league championship plays against the winner of the Pacific League in the annual Japan Series. It currently consists of six teams from around the country,The Central League...

, Koji Uehara
Koji Uehara
is a Major League Baseball Japanese right-handed relief pitcher. He is currently a relief pitcher for the Texas Rangers.Uehara throws a high-80s four-seam fastball and a solid forkball as his primary pitches...

, also won the same honor with a 20-win season. Together, they would come to represent their respective leagues as dominant starting pitchers for seasons to come.

In 2000, Matsuzaka had 14 wins and 7 losses. He had 15 wins and 15 losses in his 2001 season and won the Eiji Sawamura Award.

Matsuzaka spent a considerable portion of his 2002 season on the disabled list
Disabled list
In Major League Baseball, the disabled list is a method for teams to remove their injured players from the roster in order to summon healthy players.-General guidelines:...

, which did not count toward his service time. He was not able to regain his pitching form in the 2002 Japan Series
2002 Japan Series
The 2002 Japan Series matched the Central League champion Yomiuri Giants against the Pacific League champion Seibu Lions.*TV: NTV , TV Asahi TBS *MVP: Tomohiro Nioka - Summary :...

, when the Lions faced the Yomiuri Giants
Yomiuri Giants
The are a professional baseball team based in Bunkyo, Tokyo, Japan. The team competes in the Central League in Nippon Professional Baseball, the top level of professional play in Japan. They play their home games in the Tokyo Dome, opened in 1988. The English-language press occasionally calls the...

. In Game 1 at Tokyo Dome, where the designated hitter
Designated hitter
In baseball, the designated hitter rule is the common name for Major League Baseball Rule 6.10, an official position adopted by the American League in 1973 that allows teams to designate a player, known as the designated hitter , to bat in place of the pitcher each time he would otherwise come to...

 rule is not allowed, Matsuzaka batted 7th in the lineup to take advantage of his above-average hitting for a pitcher. However, not only did Matsuzaka not fare well at the plate in this game, but he also helped the Giants to a rout by giving up two key home runs. One was to extremely popular Giants first baseman Kazuhiro Kiyohara
Kazuhiro Kiyohara
is a former professional baseball player in Japan, having played in Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball league for 23 seasons. He retired following the 2008 season.-Biography:...

, who hit a middle-of-the-plate Matsuzaka fastball off one of the billboards at the back of the left field stands (That footage can be seen in the external links section). Matsuzaka would give up another key RBI to Kiyohara in game 4 in relief, as the Lions were meekly swept by the Giants in the series.

In 2003, Matsuzaka logged 16 wins and 7 losses. He easily won the Pacific League ERA
Earned run average
In baseball statistics, earned run average is the mean of earned runs given up by a pitcher per nine innings pitched. It is determined by dividing the number of earned runs allowed by the number of innings pitched and multiplying by nine...

 title with a 2.83 mark. Matsuzaka used to play for Japan's National Baseball Team
Japan national baseball team
The Japan national baseball team is the national baseball team representing Japan in international competitions. They are one of the more successful baseball teams in the world, having won the World Baseball Classic in 2006 and 2009...

, and pitched against South Korea
South Korea
The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

.

He was selected for the Nippon Professional Baseball All-Star Game in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006. He was voted MVP of the 2004 game.

Major League Baseball career


On October 25, 2006, Scott Boras
Scott Boras
Scott Boras is an American sports agent, specializing in baseball. He is the founder, owner and president of the Boras Corporation, a sports agency based in Newport Beach, Calif. that represents roughly 175 professional baseball clients, including many of the game's highest-profile players...

 was announced as Matsuzaka's agent to represent him in any contract dealings in the Major Leagues
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

. On November 2, Matsuzaka was officially granted permission by the Lions to pursue a career in Major League Baseball via the posting system
Posting system
The is a baseball player transfer system that operates between Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball and the United States' Major League Baseball . Despite the drafting of the United States – Japanese Player Contract Agreement in 1967 designed to regulate NPB players moving to MLB, problems...

.

On November 14, the Boston Red Sox
Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox are a professional baseball team based in Boston, Massachusetts, and a member of Major League Baseball’s American League Eastern Division. Founded in as one of the American League's eight charter franchises, the Red Sox's home ballpark has been Fenway Park since . The "Red Sox"...

 won the bidding rights to Matsuzaka with a bid of $51,111,111.11, outbidding the Texas Rangers
Texas Rangers (baseball)
The Texas Rangers are a professional baseball team in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, based in Arlington, Texas. The Rangers are a member of the Western Division of Major League Baseball's American League, and are the reigning A.L. Western Division and A.L. Champions. Since , the Rangers have...

, New York Mets
New York Mets
The New York Mets are a professional baseball team based in the borough of Queens in New York City, New York. They belong to Major League Baseball's National League East Division. One of baseball's first expansion teams, the Mets were founded in 1962 to replace New York's departed National League...

, and New York Yankees
New York Yankees
The New York Yankees are a professional baseball team based in the The Bronx, New York. They compete in Major League Baseball in the American League's East Division...

. The enormous figure — two to three times the Lions' payroll — astounded both Japanese and American baseball executives. The Red Sox had 30 days to sign Matsuzaka to a contract. If a deal could not be reached, Matsuzaka would have returned to the Lions, nullifying the bid. Scott Boras refused to consider the posting fee as part of the contract negotiations, while Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein
Theo Epstein
Theo Nathan Epstein is the President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs.On November 25, 2002, he became the youngest GM in the history of Major League Baseball when the Boston Red Sox hired him at the age of 28...

 recalled, "We tried to come up with a total number, for the post and contract, that made sense."

On December 11, Epstein, Red Sox owner John W. Henry
John W. Henry
John William Henry II is a futures and foreign exchange trading advisor who founded John W. Henry & Company . He is the principal owner of the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool F.C., and co-owner of Roush Fenway Racing. In March 2006, Boston Magazine estimated his net worth at $1.1 billion, but noted...

 and CEO Larry Lucchino
Larry Lucchino
Lawrence Lucchino, is the current President and CEO of the Boston Red Sox, and a member of John W...

 boarded a plane to "[take] the fight directly to [Boras]". Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe asserted that Boras, by refusing to negotiate, was using Matsuzaka as a protest or "test case of the posting system
Posting system
The is a baseball player transfer system that operates between Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball and the United States' Major League Baseball . Despite the drafting of the United States – Japanese Player Contract Agreement in 1967 designed to regulate NPB players moving to MLB, problems...

."

On December 13, Matsuzaka and Boras joined Red Sox GM Theo Epstein, CEO Larry Lucchino, and Chairman Tom Werner
Tom Werner
Thomas Charles "Tom" Werner is an American television producer and businessman who, via his investment in New England Sports Ventures, is chairman of the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool Football Club....

 on a private plane owned by Red Sox owner John Henry headed for Boston. During the flight—which was followed by both the Boston and the Japanese media—the group agreed to terms on a contract. Journalist Nobuhiro Chiba characterized Japanese reaction to the signing: "I think the people are relieved to send Daisuke to the Boston Red Sox." In Boston, Matsuzaka passed his physical and signed the six-year, $52 million contract, which could be worth as much as $60 million if he fulfills incentives. The details of the contract include a $2 million signing bonus with a $6 million salary in 2007, $8 million in each of the following three seasons (2008–2010), and $10 million in each of the final two years (2011–2012). He also has a no-trade clause, specially constructed by the Red Sox to fit Matsuzaka's contract.

The final agreement was announced Thursday, December 14 at a 5 p.m. EST
North American Eastern Time Zone
The Eastern Time Zone of the United States and Canada is a time zone that falls mostly along the east coast of North America. Its UTC time offset is −5 hrs during standard time and −4 hrs during daylight saving time...

 news conference at Fenway Park
Fenway Park
Fenway Park is a baseball park near Kenmore Square in Boston, Massachusetts. Located at 4 Yawkey Way, it has served as the home ballpark of the Boston Red Sox baseball club since it opened in 1912, and is the oldest Major League Baseball stadium currently in use. It is one of two "classic"...

. Afterwards some members of the press noted the confusion created by Matsuzaka's translator at that announcement. Art Martone of the Providence Journal commented, "Matsuzaka’s interpreter
Interpreting
Language interpretation is the facilitating of oral or sign-language communication, either simultaneously or consecutively, between users of different languages...

’s command of the English language
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 was shaky, and thus the pitcher’s translated comments were brief and, occasionally, unintelligible. About the only clear statement relayed by the interpreter was when Matsuzaka said, 'I’m very happy and excited to be a member of the Boston Red Sox.'"

2007 season


Matsuzaka's first major league spring training
Spring training
In Major League Baseball, spring training is a series of practices and exhibition games preceding the start of the regular season. Spring training allows new players to try out for roster and position spots, and gives existing team players practice time prior to competitive play...

 took place in Fort Myers, Florida, with the Red Sox during February and March 2007, wearing number 18. Matsuzaka pitched well in most of his exhibition starts. He wears number 18 because Masumi Kuwata
Masumi Kuwata
Masumi Kuwata is a former Japanese right-handed pitcher. He was formerly with the Yomiuri Giants of the Central League. He pitched 21 seasons with the Giants, beginning in 1986. In December 2006 Masumi signed a minor league deal with the Pirates...

 also wears number 18. The number is traditionally worn by the ace of a pitching staff in Japan.

Matsuzaka made his first major league regular season start for the Red Sox on April 5, 2007 in an afternoon game against the Kansas City Royals
Kansas City Royals
The Kansas City Royals are a Major League Baseball team based in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals are a member of the Central Division of Major League Baseball's American League. From 1973 to the present, the Royals have played in Kauffman Stadium...

 at Kauffman Stadium
Kauffman Stadium
Ewing M. Kauffman Stadium is a Major League Baseball stadium located in Kansas City, Missouri, and home to the Kansas City Royals of the American League. Together with Arrowhead Stadium, home of the National Football League's Kansas City Chiefs, it is a part of the Truman Sports Complex...

. He walked one, recorded 10 strikeouts, and at one point retired 10 consecutive batters. He allowed only a solo home run on 6 hits while throwing 108 pitches (74 for strikes) over 7 innings and recorded the win
Win (baseball)
In professional baseball, there are two types of decisions: a win and a loss . In each game, one pitcher on the winning team is awarded a win and one pitcher on the losing team is given a loss in their respective statistics. These pitchers are collectively known as the pitchers of record. Only...

 as the Red Sox triumphed by a score of 4–1. He was, however, beaten 3–0 by Félix Hernández
Félix Hernández
Félix Abraham Hernández , nicknamed "King Félix", is a Major League Baseball starting pitcher for the Seattle Mariners....

 (who pitched a one hitter), Ichiro Suzuki
Ichiro Suzuki
, usually known simply as is a Major League Baseball right fielder for the Seattle Mariners. Ichiro has established a number of batting records, including the sport's single-season record for hits with 262...

, Kenji Johjima
Kenji Johjima
is a Japanese catcher who is currently playing for the Hanshin Tigers. He played in Major League Baseball for four years with the Seattle Mariners in the American League....

, and their Seattle Mariners
Seattle Mariners
The Seattle Mariners are a professional baseball team based in Seattle, Washington. Enfranchised in , the Mariners are a member of the Western Division of Major League Baseball's American League. Safeco Field has been the Mariners' home ballpark since July...

 in his Fenway Park debut on April 11, 2007 and defeated again, 2–1, by the Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays are a professional baseball team located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Blue Jays are a member of the Eastern Division of Major League Baseball 's American League ....

 in his third major league start despite striking out 10 Toronto hitters in only 6 innings. Matsuzaka still became the only pitcher to strike out 10 or more batters in 2 of his first 3 big-league starts since Fernando Valenzuela
Fernando Valenzuela
Fernando Valenzuela Anguamea is a Mexican former left-handed pitcher, most notably with the Los Angeles Dodgers.In 1981, the 20-year-old Valenzuela took Los Angeles by storm, winning his first 8 decisions and leading the Dodgers to the World Championship...

 did so in 1981.

In the official press conference after the Toronto start, Matsuzaka stated through his interpreter that gripping the American baseball—which is slightly larger than the Japanese pro ball, with higher seams—had presented some challenges, but that he had begun making adjustments and felt they were successful.

Matsuzaka pitched his first complete game
Complete game
In baseball, a complete game is the act of a pitcher pitching an entire game without the benefit of a relief pitcher.As demonstrated by the charts below, in the early 20th century, it was common for most good Major League Baseball pitchers to pitch a complete game almost every start. Pitchers were...

 in the major leagues on May 14, 2007, a 7–1 victory over the Detroit Tigers
Detroit Tigers
The Detroit Tigers are a Major League Baseball team located in Detroit, Michigan. One of the American League's eight charter franchises, the club was founded in Detroit in as part of the Western League. The Tigers have won four World Series championships and have won the American League pennant...

; he had pitched well over 60 complete games in Japan.

Matsuzaka signed a multi-million dollar exclusive deal with trading card company Upper Deck
Upper Deck Company
The Upper Deck Company, LLC , founded in 1988, is a private company primarily known for producing trading cards...

. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

On September 28, 2007 Matsuzaka went eight innings and threw 119 pitches. He allowed six hits and two runs while striking out eight. With the win against the Minnesota Twins to secure the Red Sox's place as the winner of the Division, he closed out his first Major League season with a record of 15–12 and an ERA of 4.40.

On October 6, 2007, Matsuzaka made his Major League playoff debut in the 2007 ALDS, in front of his home crowd in Boston
Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

 against the visiting Los Angeles Angels. Matsuzaka started the game but lasted just 4 and 2/3 innings, giving up 3 earned runs on 7 hits before being pulled. Although Matsuzaka did not get the decision, the Red Sox eventually beat the Angels 6–3.

On October 15, 2007, Matsuzaka started in his second playoff game, in game 3 of the 2007 ALCS against the Cleveland Indians
Cleveland Indians
The Cleveland Indians are a professional baseball team based in Cleveland, Ohio. They are in the Central Division of Major League Baseball's American League. Since , they have played in Progressive Field. The team's spring training facility is in Goodyear, Arizona...

 in Cleveland. Much like his playoff debut, Matsuzaka delivered another mediocre outing. Again, Matsuzaka was not able to make it past 5 innings, lasting 4 and 2/3 innings, giving up 4 earned runs on 6 hits. Matsuzaka was pulled after going over the 100-pitch mark. Matsuzaka suffered his first career playoff loss as the Indians beat the Red Sox 4–2. Matsuzaka fared better in Game 7 of the series, on October 21, 2007, retiring the first eight batters he faced. Matsuzaka pitched well for 5 innings, allowing 2 runs. The Red Sox won 11–2, to advance to the 2007 World Series
2007 World Series
-Game 1:Wednesday, October 24, 2007 at Fenway Park in Boston, MassachusettsThe Red Sox cruised to a blowout win in Game 1 behind ALCS MVP Josh Beckett, who struck out nine batters, including the first four he faced, en route to his fourth win of the 2007 postseason...

 against the Colorado Rockies
Colorado Rockies
The Colorado Rockies are a Major League Baseball team based in Denver, Colorado. Established in 1991, they started play in 1993 and are in the West Division of the National League. The team is named after the Rocky Mountains...

. Matsuzaka is the first Japanese pitcher to win an MLB playoff game and only the fifth rookie to start a game seven in the playoffs.

On October 27, 2007, he started and led the Red Sox to a 10–5 win in Game 3 of the 2007 World Series against the Rockies, his first World Series appearance, giving up 2 runs on 3 hits and 3 walks, with 5 strikeouts. In the game, he also recorded his first major league hit: a two-out 2-run single off Josh Fogg
Josh Fogg
Joshua Smith Fogg is an American professional baseball player who has been a pitcher for nine Major League Baseball seasons. Fogg played college baseball for the University of Florida, and was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the third round of the 1998 Major League Baseball Draft...

, making Matsuzaka the third pitcher in Red Sox history to record two RBIs in a World Series game; the others were Babe Ruth
Babe Ruth
George Herman Ruth, Jr. , best known as "Babe" Ruth and nicknamed "the Bambino" and "the Sultan of Swat", was an American Major League baseball player from 1914–1935...

 (in Game 4 of the 1918 World Series
1918 World Series
The 1918 World Series featured the Boston Red Sox, who defeated the Chicago Cubs four games to two. The Series victory for the Red Sox was their fifth in five tries, going back to . The Red Sox scored only nine runs in the entire Series; the fewest runs by the winning team in World Series history...

) and Cy Young
Cy Young
Denton True "Cy" Young was an American Major League Baseball pitcher. During his 22-year baseball career , he pitched for five different teams. Young was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937...

. Matsuzaka is also the first Japanese pitcher in World Series history to start and win a game. The next day, the Red Sox won the Series in Game 4.

2008 season


In the beginning of 2008 season
2008 Boston Red Sox season
The Boston Red Sox' 2008 season began on March 25, in Tokyo, Japan for the MLB Japan Opening Day 2008. The Red Sox were attempting to become the first repeat World Series Champions since the 1999–2000 New York Yankees and also be the first repeat Champions of the 21st century. They also tried to...

, Matsuzaka led the Red Sox pitching staff with eight consecutive wins without suffering a single loss. However, on May 27, he left the game against the Seattle Mariners
Seattle Mariners
The Seattle Mariners are a professional baseball team based in Seattle, Washington. Enfranchised in , the Mariners are a member of the Western Division of Major League Baseball's American League. Safeco Field has been the Mariners' home ballpark since July...

 in the bottom of the fifth inning due to a "tired shoulder". The game resulted in a 4–3 loss. The Red Sox placed Matsuzaka on the disabled list May 30, 2008 with a mild right rotator cuff
Rotator cuff
In anatomy, the rotator cuff is the group of muscles and their tendons that act to stabilize the shoulder. The four muscles of the rotator cuff, along with the teres major muscle, the coracobrachialis muscle and the deltoid, make up the seven scapulohumeral muscles of the human body.-Function:The...

 strain. He returned on June 21 but was the losing pitcher after giving up 7 earned runs in just one inning of work against the St. Louis Cardinals
St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals are a professional baseball team based in St. Louis, Missouri. They are members of the Central Division in the National League of Major League Baseball. The Cardinals have won eleven World Series championships, the most of any National League team, and second overall only to...

. Despite a record of 9–1 and a 3.12 ERA at the break, Matsuzaka was not selected to the 2008 American League All-Star team. On September 15 he won his 17th game of the season, setting a new single-season record for Japanese MLB pitchers, passing previous record holder Hideo Nomo
Hideo Nomo
is a former right-handed pitcher in Nippon Professional Baseball and Major League Baseball from Japan. He achieved early success in Japan, where he played with the Kintetsu Buffaloes from to...

.

Matsuzaka ended the season with an 18–3 record, 2.90 ERA and held opponents to a .211 AVG (and 6.9 hits-per-9-innings), the lowest in the majors. He also led the AL by leaving 80.6 percent of the baserunners he allowed stranded. These numbers were enough to place him 4th in the American League
American League
The American League of Professional Baseball Clubs, or simply the American League , is one of two leagues that make up Major League Baseball in the United States and Canada. It developed from the Western League, a minor league based in the Great Lakes states, which eventually aspired to major...

 Cy Young Award
Cy Young Award
The Cy Young Award is an honor given annually in baseball to the best pitchers in Major League Baseball , one each for the American League and National League . The award was first introduced in 1956 by Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick in honor of Hall of Fame pitcher Cy Young, who died in 1955...

 race. However, a major problem for Matsuzaka was the control of his pitches, which, combined with his lack of innings pitched due to his injury, factored into his Cy Young voting. He walked 94 batters in 167 and 2/3 innings (a major-league-leading 13.1% of all batters he faced), even walking an eye-popping eight in one game against the Detroit Tigers
Detroit Tigers
The Detroit Tigers are a Major League Baseball team located in Detroit, Michigan. One of the American League's eight charter franchises, the club was founded in Detroit in as part of the Western League. The Tigers have won four World Series championships and have won the American League pennant...

 on May 5. Eight times in the 2008 season, Matsuzaka surrendered walks to five or more batters in a game, and 12 times he walked three or more in a game. The interesting statistic is that Matsuzaka was 11–1 in the 16 starts he walked three or more batters, which was a testament to his ability to wiggle out of whatever trouble he got himself into.

Matsuzaka started Game 2 of the American League Divisional Series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are a professional baseball team based in Anaheim, California, United States. The Angels are a member of the Western Division of Major League Baseball's American League. The "Angels" name originates from the city in which the team started, Los Angeles...

 and fared well over five-plus innings, handing the ball over to fellow countryman Hideki Okajima
Hideki Okajima
is a Japanese professional baseball pitcher with the Boston Red Sox organization in the United States, currently with their AAA affiliate, the Pawtucket Red Sox. He played with the Yomiuri Giants and Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball league from 1994-2006...

. However, Game 1 of the 2008 American League Championship Series
2008 American League Championship Series
-Game 1:Friday, October 10, 2008 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FloridaBoston won a pitcher's duel on a sac fly by Jed Lowrie in the fifth and an RBI double by Kevin Youkilis in the eighth. Starter Daisuke Matsuzaka was nearly unhittable in Game 1 of the 2008 ALCS. He held the Rays hitless...

 was where Matsuzaka had his first solid postseason start. In 7-plus innings, he no-hit the Tampa Bay Rays
Tampa Bay Rays
The Tampa Bay Rays are a Major League Baseball team based in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Rays are a member of the Eastern Division of MLB's American League. Since their inception in , the club has played at Tropicana Field...

 before giving up a hit to Carl Crawford
Carl Crawford
Carl Demonte Crawford is an American professional baseball outfielder who plays for the Boston Red Sox of Major League Baseball. He bats and throws left-handed...

 to start the 7th and got the win. However, at home in Game 5, Matsuzaka was rocked in four-plus innings for five runs on five hits, walking two, striking out two, and giving up three home runs to B.J. Upton, Carlos Pena
Carlos Peña
Carlos Felipe Peña is a Dominican professional baseball left-handed first baseman. He played previously with the Texas Rangers, Oakland Athletics, Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago Cubs.Although he was born in Santo Domingo and his family is from San Francisco de Macorís,...

, and Evan Longoria
Evan Longoria
Evan Michael Longoria is a Major League Baseball third baseman for the Tampa Bay Rays. Formerly, Longoria was a star infielder for the Long Beach State University baseball team, the Cape Cod League MVP, and the Big West Co-Player of the Year.He made his major league debut for the Rays in , and...

. Boston however staged a miracle comeback to win 8–7. The Tampa Bay Rays went on to win the 2008 American League Division.

2009 season


When Matsuzaka decided to pitch in the 2009 World Baseball Classic
2009 World Baseball Classic
The 2009 World Baseball Classic was an international baseball competition. It is the only international baseball tournament to feature a large number of players from the major leagues of North America and Asia. It began on March 5, 2009, and finished March 23, 2009.Japan emerged victorious for the...

, the Red Sox were concerned with his decision being that it would cause him to miss a majority of spring training. Red Sox manager Terry Francona
Terry Francona
Terry Jon Francona , nicknamed "Tito," is a former Major League Baseball manager and a former player. He was a first baseman and outfielder in the majors from 1981 to 1990. After retiring as a player, he managed several minor league teams in the 1990s before managing the Philadelphia Phillies for...

 asked Team Japan manager Tatsunori Hara
Tatsunori Hara
is the current manager for the Yomiuri Giants baseball team in Nippon Professional Baseball. He also played for the Yomiuri Giants during his professional baseball career from to . Hara led the Japan national baseball team to victory in the final of the 2009 World Baseball Classic.- External links :...

 to keep him updated on Matsuzaka's condition along with limiting Matsuzaka's pitch count. Throughout the WBC, the Red Sox had limited access to Matsuzaka and decided not press the issue more with Hara. Matsuzaka went on to lead Team Japan to victory earning the MVP award with a 3–0 record and 2.45 ERA.

On March 27, 2009, Matsuzaka reported to Red Sox spring training only twelve days before opening day. In Matsuzaka's first start of the regular season, he gave up three home runs against the Tampa Bay Rays
Tampa Bay Rays
The Tampa Bay Rays are a Major League Baseball team based in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Rays are a member of the Eastern Division of MLB's American League. Since their inception in , the club has played at Tropicana Field...

, ultimately losing the game. In his next game against the Oakland Athletics
Oakland Athletics
The Oakland Athletics are a Major League Baseball team based in Oakland, California. The Athletics are a member of the Western Division of Major League Baseball's American League. From to the present, the Athletics have played in the O.co Coliseum....

, Matsuzaka only lasted one inning, giving up five hits, five runs, two walks, and striking out none. Matsuzaka was quickly placed on the DL
Disabled list
In Major League Baseball, the disabled list is a method for teams to remove their injured players from the roster in order to summon healthy players.-General guidelines:...

, while reliever Justin Masterson
Justin Masterson
Justin Daniel Masterson is a right-handed starting pitcher in Major League Baseball for the Cleveland Indians. Masterson was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the second round of the 2006 Major League Baseball Draft. Masterson was rated as the 64th-best prospect going into that year's draft by...

 took his spot in the rotation.

Matsuzaka made his next start on May 22, 2009, against the New York Mets
New York Mets
The New York Mets are a professional baseball team based in the borough of Queens in New York City, New York. They belong to Major League Baseball's National League East Division. One of baseball's first expansion teams, the Mets were founded in 1962 to replace New York's departed National League...

 after being activated off the DL. He gave up five runs over five innings, receiving another loss. Matsuzaka gained his first win of the season against the Detroit Tigers
Detroit Tigers
The Detroit Tigers are a Major League Baseball team located in Detroit, Michigan. One of the American League's eight charter franchises, the club was founded in Detroit in as part of the Western League. The Tigers have won four World Series championships and have won the American League pennant...

 on June 2, 2009, but failed to produce any quality starts. After a loss against the Atlanta Braves
Atlanta Braves
The Atlanta Braves are a professional baseball club based in Atlanta, Georgia. The Braves are a member of the Eastern Division of Major League Baseball's National League. The Braves have played in Turner Field since 1997....

 on June 19, 2009, Matsuzaka was once again placed on the disabled list. Red Sox manager Terry Francona stated that Matsuzaka was placed on the DL due to "weakness" in his throwing arm possibly caused by the extensive pitching he did in the World Baseball Classic. Francona also made it clear that it would not be a "two-week DL" stating "We're going to have to figure this out. We have a lot of work ahead of us trying to get him back to being Daisuke."

As of his second placement on the DL in the 2009 series, Matsuzaka held a 1–5 record with a 8.23 ERA. With Matsuzaka's placement on the DL, it left a spot open in the starting rotation for John Smoltz
John Smoltz
John Andrew Smoltz is an American former Major League Baseball pitcher and active sportscaster. He is best known for his prolific career of more than two decades with the Atlanta Braves, in which he garnered eight All-Star selections and received the Cy Young Award in 1996...

 to pitch in after being activated off the DL.

Although it has been suggested that the high number of innings pitched early in his career combined with a vigorous personal training regimen is a possible cause of Matsuzaka's sustained injury problems in 2009, Matsuzaka himself has stated publicly that he feels he cannot maintain arm strength without extensive training.

As of September 12, 2009, Red Sox pitching management claimed that Matsuzaka successfully completed his strengthening and rehabilitation sessions and is set to return to the team's pitching rotation for a start against the Los Angeles Angels. On September 15, 2009, Matsuzaka made his first start since June, 19. He came and pitched his best outing of the season, pitching six plus shut out innings, striking out five, walking three, and giving up three hits. When taken out of the game, he was greeted with a standing ovation from the Fenway crowd.

In October 2009, Matsuzaka was interviewed by a Japanese TV. During the interview, Matsuzaka revealed that he had in fact injured his hip joint but he did not reveal when he got the injury, being red-faced with shame.

In early January 2010, Matsuzaka was interviewed by Japanese magazine Friday. During the interview, Matsuzaka revealed that he had in fact injured his right hip while training for the '09 WBC. When asked why he concealed the injury from Team Japan trainers and coaches, Matsuzaka replied, "I didn't want to be the center of concern for people," and also added, "[The Classic] was hard. I relied on my wits and my shoulder strength. I had to be creative. I varied the paces between the pitches; I used the different kind of slider that I usually don't throw."

Matsuzaka also apologized to Red Sox fans, saying, "I am very sorry for making you worry. I assure you that the [2010] season will be a great season. I am going to redeem what I lost in 2009. With my health back, I am confident and determined to produce this year. I will [try my best to] become a world champion once again."

2011 season


On May 5, 2011, Matsuzaka made his first relief appearance of his MLB career picking up the loss in 1 inning against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are a professional baseball team based in Anaheim, California, United States. The Angels are a member of the Western Division of Major League Baseball's American League. The "Angels" name originates from the city in which the team started, Los Angeles...

 after a 2 and a half hour rain delay. On May 17, 2011, Matsuzaka was placed on the 15 Day disabled list. On June 2, it was reported that he will be out for the season due to Tommy John surgery
Tommy John surgery
Tommy John surgery, known in medical practice as ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction, is a surgical procedure in which a ligament in the medial elbow is replaced with a tendon from elsewhere in the body...

. On June 10, Matsuzaka was scheduled to have the surgery.

International career


2004 Olympic Games


He participated in the 2004
2004 Summer Olympics
The 2004 Summer Olympic Games, officially known as the Games of the XXVIII Olympiad, was a premier international multi-sport event held in Athens, Greece from August 13 to August 29, 2004 with the motto Welcome Home. 10,625 athletes competed, some 600 more than expected, accompanied by 5,501 team...

 Olympic Games
Olympic Games
The Olympic Games is a major international event featuring summer and winter sports, in which thousands of athletes participate in a variety of competitions. The Olympic Games have come to be regarded as the world’s foremost sports competition where more than 200 nations participate...

 in Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

. However, he lost the semifinal game to Australia by the score of 1–0. His team later defeated Canada and won the bronze medal.

2006 World Baseball Classic


In 2006, Matsuzaka pitched for Japan
Japan national baseball team
The Japan national baseball team is the national baseball team representing Japan in international competitions. They are one of the more successful baseball teams in the world, having won the World Baseball Classic in 2006 and 2009...

 in the inaugural
2006 World Baseball Classic
---------Pool B:-------------Pool C:-------------Pool D:-------------Pool 1:-----------------Pool 2:-------------Finals:-Semifinals:-Final:-Final standings:...

 World Baseball Classic
World Baseball Classic
The World Baseball Classic is an international baseball tournament sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation and created by Major League Baseball , the Major League Baseball Players Association , and other professional baseball leagues and their players associations around the world...

. He was crowned the MVP
Most Valuable Player
In sports, a Most Valuable Player award is an honor typically bestowed upon the best performing player or players on a specific team, in an entire league, or for a particular contest or series of contests...

 of the first ever World Baseball Classic
World Baseball Classic
The World Baseball Classic is an international baseball tournament sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation and created by Major League Baseball , the Major League Baseball Players Association , and other professional baseball leagues and their players associations around the world...

 after Team Japan defeated Team Cuba
Cuba national baseball team
The Cuba national baseball team is the national team of Cuba. The team is made up of amateur players from the Cuban national baseball system, as there are no professional sports leagues in Cuba...

 10–6 in the finals. Matsuzaka, the winner of the finale, threw 4 innings of 1 run baseball before exiting. Overall, Matsuzaka pitched a total of 13 innings throughout the tournament while finishing with 3 wins and no losses. There had been talk of Matsuzaka wanting to go to Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

 before the '06 WBC, and the tournament allowed Matsuzaka to show his skills on the worldwide stage. Interest in Matsuzaka from MLB teams boomed after his performance throughout the WBC.

2009 World Baseball Classic


Matsuzaka was a member of the Japanese team at the 2009 World Baseball Classic
2009 World Baseball Classic
The 2009 World Baseball Classic was an international baseball competition. It is the only international baseball tournament to feature a large number of players from the major leagues of North America and Asia. It began on March 5, 2009, and finished March 23, 2009.Japan emerged victorious for the...

, playing a key role as they successfully defended their title. He also won his second World Baseball Classic MVP award, finishing the tournament with a 3–0 record and a 2.45 ERA. In all, he pitched 14 2/3 innings, allowing 4 runs on 14 hits with 5 walks and 13 strikeouts.

Pitching


Matsuzaka possesses numerous pitches in his repertoire: a four-seam fastball
Four-seam fastball
A four-seam fastball, also called a rising fastball, a four-seamer, or a cross-seam fastball, is a pitch in baseball. It is a member of the fastball family...

 that ranges from 91 to 94 mph (40.7 to 42 ), occasionally clocking 97 miles per hour (43.4 m/s), with some late movement, a two-seam fastball
Two-seam fastball
A two-seam fastball is a pitch in baseball and a variant of the straight fastball. The pitch has the speed of a fastball, but the general movement of a screwball...

 in the low 90s (145–150 km/h), a slider
Slider
In baseball, a slider is a pitch that breaks laterally and down, with a speed between that of a curveball and that of a fastball....

 at about 82 miles per hour (36.7 m/s), a curveball
Curveball
The curveball is a type of pitch in baseball thrown with a characteristic grip and hand movement that imparts forward spin to the ball causing it to dive in a downward path as it approaches the plate. Its close relatives are the slider and the slurve. The "curve" of the ball varies from pitcher to...

 at about 78 miles per hour (34.9 m/s), a forkball
Forkball
The forkball is a type of pitch in baseball. Related to the split-fingered fastball, the forkball is held between the first two fingers and thrown hard snapping the wrist....

, and a screwball
Screwball
A screwball , is a baseball pitch that is thrown so as to break in the opposite direction of a slider or curveball. Depending on the pitcher's arm angle, the ball may also have a sinking action....

-like changeup
Changeup
A changeup is a type of pitch in baseball. Other names include change-of-pace, Bugs Bunny change-up, the dreaded equalizer, and simply change. The changeup is sometimes called an off-speed pitch, although that term can also be used simply to mean any pitch that is slower than a fastball...

.

His changeup
Changeup
A changeup is a type of pitch in baseball. Other names include change-of-pace, Bugs Bunny change-up, the dreaded equalizer, and simply change. The changeup is sometimes called an off-speed pitch, although that term can also be used simply to mean any pitch that is slower than a fastball...

 (breaks like a screwball, similar to Pedro Martínez
Pedro Martínez
Pedro Jaime Martínez is a retired Major League Baseball pitcher. He is an eight-time All-Star, three-time Cy Young Award winner, and 2004 World Series champion...

's change) is commonly confused with the gyroball
Gyroball
A gyroball is a type of baseball pitch used primarily by players in Japan.-Overview:The gyroball pitch was first identified by the Japanese scientist Ryutaro Himeno , and later developed into a specific throwing technique by baseball instructor Gitau Kimani , who used computer simulations to create...

. According to a documentary done by TV Asahi
TV Asahi
, also known as EX and , is a Japanese television network headquartered in Roppongi, Minato, Tokyo, Japan. The company writes its name in lower-case letters, tv asahi, in its logo and public-image materials. The company also owns All-Nippon News Network....

 (footage below), the gyroball is a pitch that is thrown with a bullet-like spin and is designed to have little to no movement. When the angle of the axis is slightly altered, it can have a sudden break as it reaches home plate, and, thus, can be devastating for a batter. However, Matsuzaka still has yet to publicly admit that he can throw a gyroball. The same documentary explains this in two ways: that Matsuzaka wants to keep his pitch a secret, or that he has never been able to intentionally throw the gyroball because it is a random result of him pitching a fastball. Along with Matsuzaka, Hideo Nomo
Hideo Nomo
is a former right-handed pitcher in Nippon Professional Baseball and Major League Baseball from Japan. He achieved early success in Japan, where he played with the Kintetsu Buffaloes from to...

, Nobuyuki Hoshino, and several major leaguers have been confirmed to be able to throw this mystical pitch. As of the 2008 season, Daisuke has not incorporated the gyroball into his arsenal.

Batting


Matsuzaka was an accomplished hitter in high school and he got his first hit in his first ever career at-bat, a single to center, in a game against the Orix Blue Wave when the Lions ran out of bench players and had to allow him to hit for himself. The Pacific League
Pacific League
The or is one of the two professional baseball leagues constituting Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan. The winner of the league championship competes against the winner in the Central League for the annual Japan Series...

 employs the designated hitter
Designated hitter
In baseball, the designated hitter rule is the common name for Major League Baseball Rule 6.10, an official position adopted by the American League in 1973 that allows teams to designate a player, known as the designated hitter , to bat in place of the pitcher each time he would otherwise come to...

 rule. Matsuzaka's first pro home run came in an interleague game against Hanshin Tigers pitcher Darwin Cubillán
Darwin Cubillán
Darwin Harrikson Cubillán Salom , is a former Major League Baseball right-handed relief pitcher....

 at spacious Koshien Stadium
Koshien Stadium
is a baseball park located near Kobe in Nishinomiya, Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan. The stadium was built to host the national high school baseball tournaments, and opened on April 1, 1924. It was the largest stadium in Asia at the time it was completed, with a capacity of 55,000.The name Kōshien comes...

 on June 9, 2006. That footage can be seen in the external links section.

Matsuzaka had his first hit with the Red Sox on May 23, 2010 in Philadelphia. He also drove in two runs with a single in Game 3 of the 2007 World Series, during a six-run third inning which enabled the Red Sox to win the game.

Personal life


Matsuzaka is married to television journalist Tomoyo Shibata
Tomoyo Shibata
is a former announcer for Nippon TV in Japan.Shibata is the wife of Boston Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka. They met during the 2000 Sydney Olympics, married in 2005, and have two children, one daughter and one son....

, formerly of Nippon TV
Nippon Television
is a television network based in the Shiodome area of Minato, Tokyo, Japan and is controlled by the Yomiuri Shimbun publishing company. Broadcasting terrestrially across Japan, the network is commonly known as , contracted to , and abbreviated as "NTV" or "AX".-Offices:*The Headquarters : 6-1,...

 in Japan, and in 2005 she gave birth to the couple's daughter. He also has a son, born on March 15, 2008.

Matsuzaka became involved in a scandal when he began dating Shibata. On September 13, 2000, he drove to her apartment one night without a valid license, illegally parked his car and it got towed, then had a team official take the blame for him to avoid a scandal, but the truth soon got out and he was fined 195,000 yen by the police and put under house arrest for one month by the Lions.

Daisuke is nicknamed in Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 and "Dice-K" in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 by the Boston Globe and USA Today
USA Today
USA Today is a national American daily newspaper published by the Gannett Company. It was founded by Al Neuharth. The newspaper vies with The Wall Street Journal for the position of having the widest circulation of any newspaper in the United States, something it previously held since 2003...

.

Baseball players who were born in the 1980 academic year (from April 2, 1980 to the following April 1, 1981) have been called the "Matsuzaka Generation
Matsuzaka Generation
The is a term used to collectively describe the baseball players that belong to current Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka's age group...

" in Japan.

In response to the 2011 Tōhoku
2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami
The 2011 earthquake off the Pacific coast of Tohoku, also known as the 2011 Tohoku earthquake, or the Great East Japan Earthquake, was a magnitude 9.0 undersea megathrust earthquake off the coast of Japan that occurred at 14:46 JST on Friday, 11 March 2011, with the epicenter approximately east...

 earthquake and tsunami, Daisuke gave a charitable donation of $1 million to the Japanese Red Cross
Japanese Red Cross
The ' is the Japanese affiliate of the International Red Cross.The Imperial Family of Japan traditionally has supported the society, with Empress as Honorary President and other royal family members as vice-presidents. Its headquarters is located in Tokyo and local chapters are set up in all 47...

 via the Red Sox Foundation. "Our efforts on the field are dedicated to all who are suffering from this catastrophe. We are in this together, so we must overcome tragedy together." Matsuzaka said in a video message. He joined with the 3 other Red Sox pitchers, team captain Jason Varitek
Jason Varitek
Jason Andrew Varitek is an American professional baseball catcher who is a free agent. After being traded as a minor league prospect by the Seattle Mariners, Varitek has played his entire major league career for the Boston Red Sox...

, and other members of the Red Sox staff to collect fan donations at the gates of two spring training games at City of Palms Park, where they collected more than $4,600 in fan donations.

External links