Dice-K set for final rehab start at Class A

Dice-K set for final rehab start

BOSTON -- In what is expected to be his final rehabilitation start before rejoining the Red Sox, Daisuke Matsuzaka will take the hill for Class A Salem on Wednesday night in a Minor League playoff game.

Manager Terry Francona said on Tuesday that the right-hander is slated to throw 90-100 pitches for Boston's Salem, Va., affiliate, which opens a semifinal round series in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Placed on the disabled list on June 21 with a mild right shoulder strain, Matsuzaka has made three starts during his current rehab assignment, the latest of which came in a 67-pitch outing for Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday.

Francona hopes Wednesday is the last time Matsuzaka dons a Minor League uniform in 2009.

"We'll try to get him pretty deep into the game," Francona said. "Maybe 90-100 [pitches], just to get him back in that kind of setting. Then we'll figure out where to slot him the rest of the way."

Matsuzaka could return to the Red Sox's rotation as soon as Sept. 15, when the club begins a three-game series against the Angels at Fenway Park. He is 1-5 with an 8.23 ERA in eight starts this season.

In other injury news, Francona was set to meet with team physician Dr. Thomas Gill before Tuesday's game to discuss the status of knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, who will not start on Friday night against the Rays due to lingering lower back pain.

"I don't know that we can come up with an answer today," Francona said. "I don't think it's there. That's kind of where we're at."

The club remains hopeful that Wakefield, an 11-game winner this year who has been one of Boston's most effective starters, can continue to pitch for the remainder of the season without compromising his long-term health.

John Barone is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.