The language barrier between the Red Sox and Daisuke Matsuzaka is a well-known commodity.
It was just something that came with the territory when the team signed the Japanese pitcher to a six-year, $52 million contract — not to mention the $51 million posting fee — before the 2007 season.
What the Red Sox never expected was a lack of communication altogether. That was the hallmark of a rancorous relationship between the two parties in the summer of 2009, as Matsuzaka endured a lost season due to shoulder trouble.
“There’s no denying, on either side, that the culture that he’s grown up in, on and off the field, is different than ours,” Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell said earlier this month. “I think based on the challenges that we dealt with physically, I think we’re moving toward a more open and consistent line of communication.”
But barely a week into 2010, the saga added a troublesome postscript. Not only did Matsuzaka hide from the team a groin injury sustained last January, the Red Sox only learned about it second-hand, when he revealed it to a newspaper.
So the Red Sox enter spring training with their fingers crossed that there will be no more secrets or surprises. Matsuzaka has been working out this month at the Athletes’ Performance Institute in Arizona, with the Red Sox keeping tabs.
“We’re really comfortable with Dice-K’s winter,” manager Terry Francona said. “[The groin injury] is kind of old news for us. I know it just came out in the papers, but we’ve been over those issues and we’re in a good place.”