June 24, 2024

The San Diego Padres made a significant move by signing Japanese left-handed pitcher Yuki Matsui to a five-year contract during the offseason to bolster their bullpen. However, manager Mike Shildt shared concerning news with reporters regarding Matsui’s potential availability for Opening Day.

Matsui experienced back discomfort toward the end of February, prompting him to halt throwing for about a week after an MRI revealed inflammation. He resumed mound work on Tuesday, engaging in a 30-pitch bullpen session at a reduced intensity. Shildt informed reporters that Matsui felt fine following the session but refrained from confirming whether he would be ready for Opening Day.

The San Diego Padres are set to kick off their season on March 20 with two games against the Los Angeles Dodgers in South Korea. While the team could benefit from having Matsui against a formidable lineup, his availability remains uncertain. Shildt mentioned that there is a chance Matsui will be ready for Opening Day, but emphasized that it’s too early to make a definitive statement.

Shildt also emphasized the importance of not rushing Matsui back, considering his significant role in the bullpen, especially for the games in South Korea. He commended Matsui for his transparency regarding his health and indicated that the team will prioritize his feedback when determining his readiness.

In an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune after his bullpen session on Tuesday, Matsui echoed Shildt’s sentiments. He expressed feeling good during the session but acknowledged the need to test his body at full intensity. Matsui indicated that he would assess his condition the following day and pay attention to how his body responds.

Matsui’s spring appearances have been limited, with just one game under his belt. However, he made quite an impression in that outing. Despite his limited action, the 28-year-old left-hander showcased his dominance by striking out the side against the Dodgers, accomplishing the feat with just nine pitches.

Should Yuki Matsui be unavailable for Opening Day or beyond, the Padres will likely rely more heavily on Robert Suarez to anchor the bullpen. Additionally, pitchers such as Wandy Peralta and Steven Wilson may need to step up to help fill the void left by Matsui’s absence.

Alarming Update on Key Padres Reliever’s Status For Opening Day

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