Friday April 20, 2012 | 12:32 PM

BOSTON — Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said that Daisuke Matsuzaka will make his first rehab appearance this Monday for the advanced Class A minor league team in Salem, Va.

The Red Sox did not announce Dice-K's further plans, but one could assume that the next step would be a start for the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs ... and it just so happens that the Sea Dogs are home next weekend.

Matsuzaka, coming back from Tommy John surgery last year, has been pitching in extended spring training games against Red Sox minor leaguers.

"He's ready to start dealing with competition, rather than rehabilitation," said Valentine, who figures Dice-K will be on a 75-pitch limit, as long as an inning does not get out of control on him.

Dice-K throw a lot of pitches in one inning ... been known to happen.

As far as another pitcher on a rehab assignment, Valentine said Andrew Miller's control problems are "concerning ... and I think it will all work out."

The glass is half full here.

With Thursday being a day off, Valentine once considered using Jon Lester pitch Sunday's game (on normal four days' rest) and skip Daniel Bard in the rotation. Valentine said he was going with Bard because even though Lester through only two innings in his last start, he needed 80 pitches. Valentine said that was as taxing on a pitcher's arm as 150 pitches in 8 innings.

As far as this being the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park, Valentine said, "the park has a magic to it. It's the baseball land of Oz. People dream about this place."

The lineup will feature Mike Aviles and Ryan Sweeney at the top. Valentine said "Ryan is hitting the ball (.424 average) and getting on base (.472 OBP) as much as anyone." But this lineup "wasn't one of the ones I was planning on in spring training."

The lineup: Aviles SS, Sweeney RF, Pedroia 2B, Gonzalez 1B, Ortiz DH, Youkilis 3B, Saltalamacchia C, Ross LF, Repko CF. (Buchholz P).

About this Blog

Kevin Thomas covers baseball and basketball for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He wisely moved to Maine in 1994 after working for the St. Petersburg Times. He is married to Nancy and they have nine children.

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