FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After two difficult seasons in which he struggled with his durability and consistency, Daisuke Matsuzaka has a simple goal when it comes to 2011.
"I just want to stay on the mound throughout the whole year in the Major Leagues," Matsuzaka said through interpreter Kenta Yamada.
That means no more trips to the disabled list and rehab outings in the Minor Leagues.
"We expect Dice-K to go out and pitch 200 innings for us this year and be one of our guys that's going to be consistent for us," said new pitching coach Curt Young.
Matsuzaka has pitched 167 2/3 innings or less the last three years. Only in his rookie season of 2007, when he went 204 2/3 innings in the regular season and another 19 2/3 in the postseason, did he avoid the disabled list.
However, if the early stages of camp are any indication, Matsuzaka thinks he can be a constant for his team this season.
"The past two years, I was not 100 percent confident about my physical condition," Matsuzaka said. "However, this Spring Training, I feel very good job and had good training."
While most of Boston's starting pitchers threw 30 pitches in their first official side session of camp, Dice-K threw 45. He has always been obsessive about his side work, and the Red Sox will give him flexibility to do that as long as he can withstand it.
"He's obviously worked very hard," said manager Terry Francona. "You can tell by the way he came into camp. It's no secret he wants to throw more, generally, than most of the guys we've had because of his background. We always told him if he could withstand that, we had no problems with that. If that's a comfort zone for him, but he can handle it because he's strong enough, I think that's terrific."
Lester aiming to cut down on walks in 2011
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It was, at first glance, a terrific 2010 season for Jon Lester. He went 19-9, posted a 3.25 ERA and registered 225 strikeouts in 208 innings. Yet there was one thing that disgusted him about it. And he is determined to make sure it isn't repeated this year.
"Walks," said Lester. "That's the main thing. [There were] too many free passes last year, too many long innings, too many two-out walks that just add 10, 12 extra pitches that aren't needed. That's an extra arm out of the bullpen."
Lester notched a career-high 83 walks last year. How does he fix the problem?
"I think it's more or less mental," Lester said. "I think sometimes you get two quick outs, you think, 'Oh, I'm out of this inning,' and you're really not and you walk a guy or give up a stupid base hit. They're going to get hits. But you don't want to when you weren't focused on the pitch, because you were worried you already had two outs. That's the main thing, just working on that mental focus every pitch, on every hitter and worrying about executing and not how many outs there are."
Because of all Lester has accomplished, it's sometimes easy to forget that he is just 27 years old, meaning he can still get better.
Look for Lester to be more aggressive with his approach this season.
"It's all just trying to keep that edge and trying to not be stupid with messing around with guys," Lester said. "Go after guys. If they get a hit, they get a hit. I'd rather give up more hits than walks. It's just one of those deals. You have to keep attacking guys."
New spring facility getting closer to completion
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Take a drive out to the Red Sox's new Spring Training facility and what you see these days is 126 acres of dirt, surrounded by construction equipment. But that is going to change by the day.
According to the Red Sox, the project is on schedule, and the state-of-the-art complex will be complete by early January 2012 and ready to go for next season's Spring Training.
"We started actually moving dirt around in August, and we've accomplished a great deal since then," said project manager Bob Taylor. "[We've] hauled in some 330 yards of fill material, and right now they're installing water lines, sanitary lines, irrigation lines, drainage -- all those neat things you have to stick into the ground that nobody sees. We've also started pouring foundations for the clubhouse, and [we're] starting to get into the stadium area itself and we're working our way around on those foundations. You can see one share wall. It's sprouting out of the ground."
As fans enter the new ballpark -- which will be a Fenway Park replica with some Florida trademarks mixed in -- there will be a "Ballpark Way" that will be similar to Yawkey Way outside of Fenway.
"Up in this area, pedestrians can populate that area and walk around and eat, all those good things," said Taylor.
And, of course, the beauty of the new facility is that it will include six practice fields, meaning the Red Sox will have their Major League and Minor League camps consolidated into one place. In their current arrangement, the Red Sox spend the first two weeks of Spring Training at the Minor League facility before moving to City of Palms Park for the start of the exhibition season.
One of the six practice fields will resemble the Fenway-look of the main field.
The new complex is about a half-hour south of City of Palms Park and in close proximity to the airport and several shopping centers.