BAPR Plus: Boston Red Sox

The biggest story this spring seems to be the arrival of Japanese ace Daisuke Matsuzaka. So not surprisingly, he’s also the biggest story of the Red Sox BAPR Plus.

Who’s Hot: Daisuke Matsuzaka came into spring training with nearly unobtainable expectations. He’s come close to living up to them with a 1-1, 2.04 spring that includes 19 strikeouts in 17 innings. His worst start was in some ways also his best, as he held Cincinnati hitless for five innings, but allowed five walks in his start on Monday. Afterwards, he was furious with himself.

“This time of year I think the content of my pitching is more important than the result on paper. I’™m not happy with the content of my pitching today. I threw a lot of walks and wasted balls and it was tough for my fielders to defend and to get in rhythm on (defense). It is something I will want to pay attention to in the regular season.”

Bad outing aside, Matsuzaka has generally shown outstanding control to go with plus stuff.

Hideki Okajima came from Japan this offseason with much less fanfare, but the 31-year-old lefthander has been impressive coming out of the pen. Terry Francona is said to be considering using him as a setup man instead of the lefty specialist role because his changeup is equally effective against righthanders.

Devern Hansack pitched well enough to make the team, but the team decided to send him to Triple-A Pawtucket to make sure he gets plenty of work.

“We felt he was very capable of doing this, but it was nice to see,” Francona said. “We just don’™t want a kid like that to come here and not pitch, because that would hurt his development, and we don’™t want to do that.”

Who’s Not: Dustin Pedroia’s still the team’s second baseman, but a .211/.324/.263 spring has added to concerns about the bottom of the Red Sox lineup. He has finished strong after a horrendous start however.

Craig Hansen’s made it to the majors after only 13 innings of minor league work. Two years later, he’s further away from the big leagues than he was on the day he was drafted. Hansen’s numbers this spring (0-1, 15.43 with 8 hits, 8 runs, 3 BBs and 3 Ks allowed in 4 2/3 IP) have the Red Sox hoping he can get things turned around with a trip to the minors.