Not pulling your leg

The big news out of Nippon Professional Baseball’s spring training on Tuesday was that Daisuke Matsuzaka is suffering from right-shoulder inflammation.

What’s unusual is that his club, the Central League’s Chunichi Dragons, believe it was caused at a meet-and-greet at the club’s training camp in Chatan, Okinawa prefecture, when a fan pulled on the right-hander’s arm.

The 38-year-old Matsuzaka later reported stiffness in the shoulder and is now prohibited from throwing.

Although he wasn’t really effective last season, Matsuzaka — who had surgery on that shoulder in August 2015 — excelled at pitching out of trouble last year and finished with a 6-4 record en route to winning NPB’s Comeback Player of the Year Award.

Is that an award one actually wins?

There was no word from the Dragons about the nature of the fan encounter. Was the fan in question challenging Matsuzaka to an arm wrestle? Was he falling over backward only to be saved by our hero reaching out to grab him?

Either way, the pitcher, who in 1999 took part in one of Japan’s ubiquitous all-star game home run derbies was seen taking healthy cuts in one of the indoor batting cages in lieu of pitching practice.

Jim Allen

sports editor for a wire service in Tokyo

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