Dice-K's first rehab start set for Monday

Dice-K's first rehab start set for Monday

BOSTON -- Daisuke Matsuzaka is ready to shift from the rehab phase of his comeback to the pitching portion.

The right-hander will pitch for Class A Advanced Salem on Monday, starting the clock on a 30-day rehab assignment, which means he could be activated by the Red Sox by May 23, slightly ahead of his original schedule.

Matsuzaka underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow last June, and he has seemingly been ahead of schedule throughout his comeback.

The plan is for Matsuzaka to make five starts in the Minor Leagues before joining Boston's starting rotation.

"Dice-K feels really good," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. "The conversation with him is that he's ready to start dealing with competition rather than rehabilitation. We will still monitor his pitches. He won't have a 30-pitch inning. He says he feels good."

Meanwhile, left fielder Carl Crawford remains at extended spring camp, where he will make another start on Friday. Crawford is still serving as the designated hitter.

Shortly after he gains clearance to play the outfield, Crawford will probably be sent up to a Minor League affiliate.