Dice-K set to return from DL

Updated: September 15, 2009, 12:27 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Daisuke Matsuzaka is expected to start for the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday against the Los Angeles Angels, returning after three months on the disabled list and a shaky start that all but sidetracked his 2009 season.

Matsuzaka<
Matsuzaka

Matsuzaka, who went 18-3 for Boston in 2008, is 1-5 with a 8.23 ERA in eight starts this season and had an April visit to the disabled list.

He went back on the 15-day DL after his June 19 start, in which he allowed six runs in four innings, and was moved to the 60-day DL on July 31 with shoulder problems.

In Matsuzaka's fourth minor-league rehab start, on Wednesday for Class-A Salem, he went 6 2/3 innings, allowing one run and striking out seven. Red Sox manager Terry Francona said the team was "encouraged" by the results, according to Boston-area media reports.

"Sounded like he held his velocity, had some depth to the slider later in the game as he accumulated some pitches," Francona said. "Again, it's [Class A] Winston-Salem, but pitching good is better than pitching bad, and we wanted him to get deep into the game and compete a little bit.''

Matsuzaka's return could add pitching depth at an opportune time for the Red Sox, who are facing uncertainty in the rotation beyond Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz.

Tim Wakefield already has spent time on the DL because of his balky lower back and had a cortisone shot earlier this month, and then again on Thursday. Paul Byrd is 1-1 in three starts, but hadn't pitched all season until signing a minor-league contract with the Red Sox in early August.

ALSO SEE