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05/05/09 8:50 PM ET

Little trouble for Dice-K in rehab start

Control a minor issue, but Sox right-hander feels strong

NEW YORK -- Daisuke Matsuzaka's Minor League rehab assignment took a successful first step on Tuesday night, when the right-hander fired 2 2/3 scoreless innings at Triple-A Pawtucket.

Matsuzaka allowed two hits, walked two, hit a batter and struck out five against Toledo. Of his 47 pitches, 29 were strikes.

Red Sox-Yankees

Dice-K has been on the 15-day disabled list since April 15 with a mild right shoulder strain.

The Red Sox are expected to give Matsuzaka at least one more Minor League start before he is activated.

"I think I'm ready to pitch in a game," Matsuzaka told reporters at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, R.I. "I wouldn't go so far as to say I don't need any rehab starts, but I feel physically ready. I'm ready to go through whatever rehab program is handed to me, so health-wise, I have no problems at all."

Having won the Most Valuable Player Award for Japan in the World Baseball Classic, Matsuzaka was shut down following two unimpressive outings with the Red Sox in which he went 0-1 with a 12.79 ERA.

Already, Matsuzaka can tell that the downtime has done wonders for him.

"Compared to my last start in Oakland, in terms of velocity, I felt much better today," Matsuzaka said on Tuesday. "My life on the ball was much better tonight."

Expect Matsuzaka to exert a tad more intensity in his next start, whenever or wherever that may be.

"I physically felt ready to get after it today, but I don't think I went all the way," Matsuzaka said. "I held back a little bit, and what that says to me is that physically, I'm back to normal."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.