Dice-K set for Saturday return vs. Nationals

Dice-K set for Saturday return vs. Nationals

Dice-K set for Saturday return vs. Nationals
BOSTON -- The return of Daisuke Matsuzaka is set for Saturday, as the right-hander will take Daniel Bard's spot in the rotation for a start against the Washington Nationals.

Matsuzaka's return to the rotation will come one day short of his one-year anniversary of undergoing Tommy John ligament transfer surgery.

"Yeah, he was in today -- says he feels fine," said manager Bobby Valentine. "Unless something changes, we'll try to activate him and try to pitch him on Saturday. Obviously we'll wait until that day comes around [to make it official]."

Three weeks ago, Valentine noted some mechanical problems Matsuzaka was having, and at that time, he didn't think Dice-K was close to a return to the Majors.

But after being shut down for a week with discomfort in his right trap muscle and then having a cortisone shot, Matsuzaka seemed to re-set himself and has made improvements in recent outings.

"It all kind of smoothed out," Valentine said. "You know, he wasn't sure. There was a little doubt about his elbow even. It was one of those wakeup days and he just felt it was a thing of the past, and that's what we needed."

As for Bard, the Red Sox met with him on Wednesday morning to further discuss how he will proceed upon his arrival to Triple-A Pawtucket, where he was optioned on Tuesday.

Bard threw a bullpen session at Fenway on Tuesday. He'll likely report to Pawtucket in the next day or two.