It has been a rough few years for Daisuke Matsuzaka. He had been one of the greatest pitchers in Nippon Professional Baseball history, and when he was signed by the Boston Red Sox, the expectation was that his greatness would continue. While he did have his moments, injuries limited his effectiveness, leading to his eventual return to Japan.
Those injuries followed him. While he may still be revered in Japan, he has thrown a total of 25 games between NPB and their minor leagues. Understandably, at 41 years old, he is ready to walk away.
Daisuke Matsuzaka getting at least one more NPB outing
But that does not mean that he is refusing to attempt to come back. Matsuzaka is set to make his 2021 debut on Tuesday, his first game action since 2019. It is also notable that he has not pitched in the minors to work his way back, with this being his true debut on the mound for 2021.
He has just 60.2 innings in Nippon Professional Baseball since his return. That time has not gone as anyone would have hoped, as he has allowed 40 runs, 35 earned, on 65 hits and 36 walks. His injuries have not always come from the mound either, as he missed most of 2019 when an overly excited fan yanked on his pitching arm, causing inflammation that ruined his season.
But Matsuzaka is still a legend. His overuse in high school may be why his arm is barely held together at this point, but that time turned him into a star. That stardom continued during his first stint in NPB, and will ensure that he is remembered forever.
Maybe Matsuzaka has one more outing in his arm. Maybe he can turn back the clock one more time, putting together one of his classic outings to remind everyone of just what he used to be. Then he can walk off the mound that last time on his terms, knowing that he left everything he possibly could have on the mound.
Daisuke Matsuzaka is set to make his 2021 Nippon Professional Baseball debut on Tuesday. It may be the final time he does so.