CHICAGO - Daisuke Matsuzaka has spent his season functioning as the pitching equivalent of baseball's most overlooked asset: the utility man.
He has taken on various roles in the bullpen, from long reliever to setup man to closer. He has even made one spot start, going six innings in the back end of a May 25 doubleheader to beat Arizona.
Now, it appears that Matsuzaka, 33, will get to stick with his preferred role, at least for a while. The veteran righthander starts Wednesday night against the Cubs, the start of what could be a somewhat extended stint in the rotation.
Dillon Gee is on the disabled list with a strained lat muscle, creating an opening for Matsuzaka, who prefers to start though he lost a spring battle with Jenrry Mejia for a starting job.
"I see this as temporary," Matsuzaka said through an interpreter. "And I don't want to really think of it as a long- term thing or think too deeply into it being something permanent."
Regardless of role, Matsuzaka has thrived. In 291/3 innings, Matsuzaka's 2.45 ERA is the third lowest on the Mets.
Murph to White House
Daniel Murphy will be at the White House on Monday as part of a panel discussion on the state of working dads. Murphy brought attention to the issue when he missed the first two games of the season to go on paternity leave, which allowed him to witness the birth of his first child. At the time, Murphy faced criticism from fans and sports radio hosts.
The Mets could shed an extra relief pitcher for a bench player as soon as Wednesday . . . Eric Young Jr. (right hamstring strain) ran outdoors at the team's complex in Florida.
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