Daisuke Matsuzaka’s confession, translated.

Daisuke Matsuzaka talked to the Japanese entertainment news and gossip weekly magazine “FRIDAY” in Japan. He talked about his difficult season and revealed that he actually hurt his right inner thigh before joining Japanese team for World Baseball Classic (which he was awarded his second MVP for winning all three games he started). It is a really forward looking article and explained a lot to me, So, I decided to translate it, and I sent it to Boston.com and portion of it was used by Extra Bases blog. Thank you, Peter!

Following is the translation of his quotes from the article.

Early on in January 2009, I hurt my right inner thigh. I consider movement around my hip joint a crucial part of my pitching motion. [The accident to hurt my thigh] happened during my exercise to strengthen my hip joint that I incorporated into training since 2008. I may have pushed myself just a little too hard. It wasn’t the pain that killed me, but it was the regrets and guilt that filled my mind. It was the time to start building up for the season, but I hurt myself because of my own doing.

I had to make a decision whether this injury was serious enough to withdraw from the World Baseball Classic. But my body was functioning well, and by taking anti-inflammatory medicine I can tolerate the pain. So I continued training, but actually it was even hard just to jog.

After the [2009] season, Ichiro [Suzuki, Seattle Mariners outfielder] called me and asked me how my injury was, and if I was OK. He must have heard from someone about it. He asked me if the injury happened before the WBC and when I said “Yes,” he scolded me (laughs) that I should have told him, and that I should not have played.

(Didn’t Japanese team’s trainers and coaches notice?) “I didn’t let them. I didn’t want to be the center of concern for people. I didn’t tell the trainers. Fortunately, I was in charge of my own training, so if it started to hurt, I could adjust to not hurt myself. But pitching while hiding the injury was very difficult. Even when I didn’t feel the pain, my body was holding back because it sensed the danger. So, my pitching motion was more of standing straight up and throwing with my upper body, relying on my shoulder strength more than usual.

Some people did actually noticed this, and asked me “Did you change your pitching form?” I just ducked the questions. I didn’t even tell my wife about my injury. Later on, she did tell me that she sensed something was different about me and was very worried about me. The medicine lost its effect while I was sleeping so I’d wake up every morning with the pain. I was really alone, and in distress about if I should play [the WBC] or not then.

[The WBC tournament] was hard. I relied on my wits and my shoulder strength. I had to be creative. I varied the paces between the pitches, I used the different kind of slider that I usually don’t throw. The first thought after we won the World Championship was relief. I didn’t destroy my team’s chances. The pitching staff [on the Japanese team] was all younger than me and I had to answer to their expectation.

My plan after the WBC was to heal myself while keeping my turn in rotation. But the condition didn’t get better as the season went on. After my first stint on the DL in May, I was very hard on myself. Because I got plenty of rest, my shoulder was much stronger, so I could still get up there in velocity. But I couldn’t use my lower body well, and I could not use my full body to generate the power. My fastball was not effective, therefore I lost effectiveness of my other pitches. In hindsight, it was impossible to continue faking the whole season, it was too much mental stress. But the Red Sox struggled a little bit in the beginning of the season so I wanted to help the team as much as I could.

(About media and fan reaction on being out of shape and burned out from the WBC) It is true that I gained weight, but it all goes back to me not being able to run. I was unable to train.

(About not having an honest talk with the team before the blow up with them) I didn’t want to show my weaknesses. I didn’t want them to think I was making excuses. I would rather be criticized than ridiculed for making excuses. I repeat, I really didn’t want to be the center of concern for people. I believe when you say you are sick, you become sick. Sure I appreciate that you are concerned about me, but I don’t even like to be wished good luck about my health.

[The blow up with the team] was a very important event for me. I think I got through to [the team] that shoulder strength and pitching stamina are two different things. They have generously agreed that I can have long bullpen sessions as long as I can pass the measurement for shoulder strength. The reason I was able to come back strong after my second DL stint was because my thigh was healed AND I was able train with the long bullpen session. It was not because I lost weight (laughs), if by losing weight you become a better pitcher, I’d lose much more. It is not that simple. I have re-started the exercise to strengthen my hip joint again.

(Asked what you would like to tell your fans) I am very sorry for making you worry. I assure you that the [2010] season will be a great season. I am going to redeem what I lost in 2009. With my health back, I am confident and determined to produce this year. I will (try my best to) become World Champion once again.

Original document and its Google translation

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