Dice-K doing better after setback

Dice-K doing better after setback

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Indians are confident that Daisuke Matsuzaka can proceed as planned in his attempt to earn the fifth spot in the starting rotation.

Matsuzaka played catch and went through a normal workout Wednesday -- two days after exiting his outing against the Angels with cramping in his right calf muscle. Cleveland manager Terry Francona said the pitcher was doing much better in the wake of that minor setback.

"He's fine; it was just a cramp," Francona said. "It set him back in the fact that he didn't pitch, but it's not like he's hurt or anything. We just couldn't let him keep going."

Matsuzaka worked a scoreless sixth inning against the Angels on Monday and took the mound for the seventh. After a few warm-up throws, however, the pitcher left the game because of the cramping. If the pitcher is cleared by the Tribe's medical staff, he might throw off a mound in a bullpen session during Thursday morning's workout.

With five starting pitchers -- Scott Kazmir, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Corey Kluber and Matsuzaka -- still jockeying for position in the race for the lone rotation vacancy, Francona said he needed to sit down with pitching coach Mickey Callaway to determine when Matsuzaka would pitch next. When Matsuzaka does pitch in a game again, he will most likely work four innings.

"That's probably where we're going to go," Francona said. "We've got innings issues coming forward, so that's why we're going to sift through that the next couple of days to see where and when we do it."

Through four Cactus League appearances, including Monday's one-inning effort, the 32-year-old Matsuzaka has posted a 2.25 ERA with three strikeouts, one walk and 10 hits allowed in eight innings. Matsuzaka is in camp on a Minor League contract as a non-roster invitee.

Last season, Matsuzaka went 1-7 with an 8.28 ERA in 11 starts for the Red Sox during his comeback from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. The righty has gone 17-22 with a 5.53 ERA in 56 games over the past four seasons after going 33-15 with a 3.72 in 61 games between the 2007-08 campaigns with Boston.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.