Sunday, April 24, 2011

Fear: A powerful motivator for Daisuke Matsuzaka

Who was that man last night (and the start before, for that matter), and what has he done with Daisuke Matsuzaka?  In all seriousness, over the last two starts, Matsuzaka has given up two hits, and no runs in fifteen innings.  It's especially impressive when you consider that his first two starts of 2011 saw him giving up ten runs in seven innings.

So what's the deal?  Well, we may finally be seeing the pitcher that we thought we were getting: the one who's been missing for three years except when he's wearing the Team Japan WBC uniform.  Matsuzaka has pitched brilliantly of late, mixing speeds and pitches, and attacking the strikezone - you know, all those things John Farrell and now Curt Young have been trying to get him to do all along.

Apparently, Daisuke Matsuzaka is totally aware that these last two starts have been probably the best he's had with the Red Sox, but the surprising (and vaguely infuriating) thing is that he remarked after Monday's game in Toronto that "he was motivated by the fear of losing his spot in the rotation." (via's Extra Bases.)

So basically, until he thought he might lose his job (something Tito says was never a possibility), the Red Sox were never important enough to Daisuke to really buckle down and give it his all.  Personally, I always suspected that the Red Sox and MLB came in at a distant second on Matsuzaka's list of priorities, far lower than #1 Team Japan.  In a culture where personal and national honor is the most important thing in a person's life, this is unsurprising, but still disappointing.

It's clear that hoisting the WBC trophy for Japan, and then the WBC MVP trophy was a much bigger point in Daisuke's life than holding the World Series trophy in 2007.  Perhaps we should be proud to have this sort of player on the team: one to which honor for his country and himself means more than $50 million - a rarity in today's world. But it IS sad that only fear of losing his slot in the starting rotation could truly motivate Matsuzaka into pitching to the best of his ability, but I'll take whatever works, at this point.

As Terry Francona said, "If that’s the case I’ll go out and threaten him.”  If it would help, I'll be happy to do the same.

No comments:

Post a Comment