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10/04/11 1:05 AM ET

Dice-K plays catch for first time since surgery

At the top of the Red Sox's agenda is finding a manager. Not far down, though, is finding a way to fix their starting pitching.

Daisuke Matsuzaka will be in the last year of his contract in 2012, and the right-hander was mostly forgotten down the stretch after he underwent Tommy John surgery on June 10. A rebound next year would be a boon for the Sox, and at the Red Sox's Spring Training facility in Fort Myers, Fla., on Monday, Matsuzaka took an early but major step toward a return.

The right-hander made 39 throws, all from short range, according to a report from the Japanese news service Jiji Press. It was the first time Matsuzaka played catch since the surgery.

"At first I wasn't sure how I should throw," Matsuzaka said according to a translation of the story. "The elbow didn't hurt at all, therefore I was relieved and happy."

Matsuzaka's rehab is reportedly going well. He is to remain in Fort Myers until mid-November.

Matsuzaka made eight appearances, including seven starts, in 2011, going 3-3 with a 5.30 ERA.

Evan Drellich is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @EvanDrellich. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.