Dice-K's goal: Avoid disabled list

Dice-K's goal: Avoid disabled list

Dice-K's goal: Avoid disabled list
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."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.