BALTIMORE -- Daisuke Matsuzaka was dominant through the first four innings of his latest Minor League rehab start for Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday. Perhaps he ran out of gas in the fifth, as he allowed seven straight batters to reach base.
However, in a positive development, Matsuzaka wiggled out of that jam and even recorded two outs in the sixth before being replaced by Mark Prior.
Matsuzaka went 5 2/3 innings, allowing five hits and five runs, four of which were earned. He walked two and struck out five, throwing 97 pitches.
The righty has been out of action since reinjuring his right trap muscle during a start in Oakland on July 2.
This was Matsuzaka's fourth start of his current rehab assignment. He spent time in the Minors earlier this season, recovering from Tommy John surgery.
The Red Sox can keep Matsuzaka in the Minors until Aug. 29 if they choose. That is when the clock runs out on his 30-day rehab.
Ortiz feeling better, but still not running or hitting
BALTIMORE -- Red Sox slugger David Ortiz had some good news on Wednesday.
"I'm starting to feel better. It's improving," said Ortiz.
That's precisely why Ortiz, at the request of the team's training staff, is going to continue backing off activities for the next few days, meaning no running and no hitting. The Red Sox want to be careful Ortiz doesn't suffer any setbacks this time in his quest to return to the lineup.
Ortiz wants to clear all the inflammation out of his right Achilles before ramping back up.
"The thing is, every time I was doing some running, I was getting sore," Ortiz said. "That's not what we're looking for. We're looking to take a step forward instead of a step back. Now we're going through some things and I'm starting to feel better."
For now, Ortiz will do all of his activities in the training room, meaning he's unlikely to play at least for the rest of this week.
Although the Red Sox have been struggling to get back into the heat of the postseason race, Ortiz said the team's place in the standings will have no impact on when he comes back.
"When I'm ready to play, I'm going to play," Ortiz said. "It doesn't matter where we're at. I'm here to play baseball."
Ortiz suffered his right Achilles strain on July 16. It's not the type of injury you can have a timetable for.
"I have no idea about David coming back. I pray that he is, this year and next," said manager Bobby Valentine.
The Red Sox are 11-16 since Ortiz suffered his injury.
"Oh, David's a great player," Valentine said. "We're getting the guys up there in the right situation, and there's no telling whether or not he'd be driving them in or not. We'll wait for him to get back and we'll be fine until he does."
Doubront should return to rotation next week
BALTIMORE -- The downtime that the Red Sox have enforced on starter Felix Doubront has done him some good, and manager Bobby Valentine expects to have him back in the rotation for the homestand that starts next week.
"He feels good," said Valentine. "I think once we get home, he'll be right back in the saddle."
Doubront will throw a bullpen session at some point this week.
The left-hander was shut down for a start because he has pitched 122 2/3 innings, which is just shy of his career high as a professional.
Prior to the All-Star break, Doubront went 9-4 with a 4.41 ERA. Since then, he is 1-2 with a 5.74 ERA.