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New York Mets send Matsuzaka to minors

MONTREAL -- The New York Mets apparently needed to see more from Japanese hurler Daisuke Matsuzaka before making him part of their regular rotation.

The Mets reassigned Matsuzaka to their Triple-A minor legue affiliate in Las Vegas on Saturday.

The National League club announced the move after a 2-0 loss to Toronto in their spring training finale in which Matsuzaka struck out eight batters in five shutout innings against the Blue Jays.

The 33-year-old Matsuzaka spent much of spring training fighting for the fifth spot in the Mets' pitching rotation.

He appeared to have solidified his spot when the team paid US$100,000 (72,711 euros) on Tuesday in order to retain his rights.

But with Matsuzaka heading to Las Vegas, Jenrry Mejia becomes the Mets' fifth starting pitcher.

However, Dice-K could yet be back in New York for the Mets' first homestand of the season.

Jon Niese, who begins the season on the disabled list, is scheduled to start against the Cincinnati Reds on April 6 and if he isn't ready Matsuzaka would likely replace him.

Matsuzaka is also insurance for Mejia, who was forced out of his pre-season start on Friday night after being hit on the right forearm with a batted ball.

He said Saturday that he's been diagnosed with inflammation, but he was listed as day-to-day.

Matsuzaka went 3-3 with a 4.42 earned-run average last year after joining the Mets from Cleveland.

After coming over from Japan to join Boston — who bid more the US$51 million (37 million euros) for the chance to get him — Matsuzaka helped the Red Sox win the 2007 World Series and spent six season in Boston.

He had “Tommy John” ligament replacement surgery on his right elbow on June 10 of 2011 and didn't return until June 9 of 2012.

He stands 53-40 in major-league play with a 4.52 earned-run average.

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