CLEVELAND (AP) – Boston right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka, sidelined earlier this month by a sore shoulder, threw 47 pain-free pitches Wednesday and is set for another bullpen session this weekend.

The Red Sox hope to target Matsuzaka’s return date after Saturday’s workout.

“I have no discomfort when it comes to throwing the ball,” Matsuzaka said through an interpreter. “It’s been awhile since I’ve thrown off a mound, so there were times when my command wasn’t quite there. On the other hand, I felt I could put a lot on the ball and the shoulder itself feels great.”

Matsuzaka has been on the 15-day disabled list since April 15. If all goes well Saturday, Matsuzaka could soon begin a rehab assignment.

“He showed good arm strength,” Boston pitching coach John Farrell said. “We’ll refrain from mapping out (a return date) until Saturday.”

Farrell again blamed the shoulder woes on the heavier workload due to the World Baseball Classic. Matsuzaka led Japan to its second WBC championship in March, going 3-0 with a 2.45 ERA in being named the tournament MVP.

Matsuzaka is 0-1 with a 12.79 ERA in two starts for the Red Sox. He has allowed three home runs in 6 1-3 innings.

“The WBC obviously has its benefits in terms of growing the game worldwide,” Farrell said. “But it presents many logistical and physical challenges for the individual players playing in it. You’re not afforded the more gradual progression that a pitcher typically goes through in a regular major league spring training.”

Manager Terry Francona wants Matsuzaka to take all the time he needs now to avoid another DL stint later in the season.

“The idea is not to put a Band-Aid on it,” Francona said. “We want to do what’s best for him.”

AP-ES-04-29-09 1901EDT

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