Matsuzaka throws side session for Sox

Matsuzaka throws side session for Sox

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The pitches kept coming. Jason Varitek kept squatting. And, finally, the epic side session of Daisuke Matsuzaka ended after 103 pitches.

Don't worry, there is a method to Matsuzaka's madness.

"It wasn't something he just dropped on us today," said Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein. "That bullpen today was a product of a lot of discourse and part of his very well thought-out, structured routine. It was impressive. Probably the thing that caught my attention the most is that he's in there 80, 90 pitches deep, he's still going through the stretch, he's still checking runners, he's still taking it like a real game situation. Every single pitch had a purpose."

To Matsuzaka, such a lengthy side session is commonplace.

"It was nothing out of the ordinary for me," said Matsuzaka. "I didn't speed up the pace of how I pitched either. I was trying to stick to what I'm used to in Japan and how I'm getting trained for the workout schedule here. I pitched more today, longer today, but nothing out of the ordinary."

It was Matsuzaka's third side session of camp and his final tune-up before he faces hitters in a live batting practice session on Saturday.

From his general manager to his manager to his pitching coach to his catcher, everyone seems impressed with the way Matsuzaka is going about his work.

"I think what continues to emerge is just the way he goes about his work and the precision," said Sox pitching coach John Farrell. "If there's a word to surmise his approach to his work, it's 'a precise manner.'"

Varitek is clearly enjoying the process of getting to know Matsuzaka.

"He has a great feel for all of his pitches," said Varitek. "He stays mechanically sound and has the ability to control the ball to both sides of the plate and add some giddy-up, too. He can put a little extra on it from what I've seen, too. He can gear down and gear back up. I think that's what makes him special, from so far what I've seen, than just raw stuff."

To those who watched, Matsuzaka's side session was almost a clinic.

"You almost wanted to videotape it and show it to our young guys in Minor League camp about how to get the most out of your practice," said Epstein.

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