PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Jimmy Rollins is a believer in Dice-K and the mysterious gyroball.
"It's a funky pitch, it definitely is," said Rollins, the Phillies' All-Star shortstop. "It's something new in America."
Well, get ready America. Here comes Matsuzaka mania.
Daisuke Matsuzaka struck out seven over four shaky innings and the Boston Red Sox beat the Philadelphia Phillies 7-5 on Saturday. The Japanese star makes his first regular-season start Thursday at Kansas City.
"I didn't feel particularly nervous, but I'm glad I had the opportunity to throw in a big league park before the beginning of the season," Matsuzaka said through a translator.
He gave up three runs, four walks and two hits. Then he grinned after a lengthy question was asked in Japanese about the start of the season. His two-word answer: "I'm ready."
The Red Sox invested $103 million in Matsuzaka and he's given them a sparkling peek at what might come this season. He pitched five hitless innings in his previous start against the Cincinnati Reds, though he walked five in that one, leading to some minor concerns about his control
"I feel like I have a good grasp of the major league strike zone," he said.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Friday that he wanted Matsuzaka to throw about 40-60 pitches Saturday, but the right-hander threw 82 because Francona wanted him to finish the spring on a strong note.
"He was trying to use all his pitches and get a feel for things," Francona said. "We wanted him to go into a start looking good, and it worked out pretty good."
Matsuzaka was followed by the usual large swarm of media, some of whom snapped photos of the park from the open-air press box. And forget hot dogs and ice cream. The Phillies served sushi, and fish and rice in the press dining room.
Then Rollins got a taste of the gyroball, the Dice-K pitch that may or may not exist.
Rollins fouled off the pitch he described as a combination of a splitter and a changeup.
"It plays tricks with your eyes," he said. "With it slightly knuckling, it kind of throws you off."
It was hard to say for sure: the scoreboard doesn't list gyroball among the possibilities above the pitch-speed reading.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said he saw Matsuzaka pitch better on DVDs and was surprised he didn't throw harder or have better command of his fastball.
It seems as though everyone has an opinion on Dice-K. The attention is now as much a part of his life as a ball and glove.
"The scrutiny's not going away," Francona said. "But it doesn't bother him. All the other stuff he just takes in stride."
Boston's rotation is set for its series with Kansas City. Curt Schilling vs. Gil Meche on Monday; Josh Beckett vs. Odalis Perez on Wednesday; and Matsuzaka vs. Zack Greinke on Thursday. ... Brett Myers starts on Monday for the Phillies against Atlanta's John Smoltz. ... Manuel said he would meet with the Phillies' front office and coaching staff later Saturday to finalize the roster.