Daisuke Matsuzaka to play winter ball in Puerto Rico

Justin Berl/Icon Sportswire

Daisuke Matsuzaka has not given up baseball as a career, returning to his native Japan to pitch in a big-league game for the first time in 10 years since prior to joining the Red Sox. Now, he’ll attempt to stabilize his career — to a degree — by playing winter ball in Puerto Rico.

“I’ve been told it’s Puerto Rico,” said Kimiyasu Kudo, who manages the Japanese League’s Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks — Matsuzaka’s current team. “He may be close to figuring it all out. If it helps him get in better shape, then I’m all for it.”

The 36-year-old right-hander has pitched in just one game with the Hawks’ top-league team, and it did not go well, putting it mildly. He gave up five runs and three hits in one inning while walking two batters, hitting two more and throwing a wild pitch. While there’s a chance Matsuzaka could again encounter some MLB prospects, his own chances of returning to the majors are just about nonexistent.

One of the most ballyhooed Japanese imports of this era, Matsuzaka has not pitched in the majors since 2014, when the Mets demoted him to the bullpen. He did not pitch in the top Japanese league in 2015 due to injuries and threw just one inning for the Hawks’ farm team that year. This represents a stark contrast from the former Red Sox cog’s previous work in Japan, when he was a dynamo for the Seibu Lions in his early- and mid-20s. Matsuzaka finished with four consecutive sub-3.00-ERA seasons from 2003-06, catching the eye of Boston management.

His running up an ERA over 8.00 during a 2012 season in which he made 11 starts brought an end to his Red Sox tenure.

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