EVEN WHEN MATSUZAKA HAS A BAD OUTING, it’s okay. So he gives up a walk every inning? It’s still five innings of no-hit baseball. Maybe the hype machine has gone into overdrive, but if the cap’n says he’s the real thing, then he’s the real thing:

Matsuzaka? He has at least five or six pitches, maybe seven, though getting people like Varitek to identify them is like trying to crack the Da Vinci Code. At this stage, it appears Matsuzaka throws a four-seam fastball, curveball, slider, cut fastball, split-fingered fastball and changeup, the latter of which is the mythical gyroball that Matsuzaka throws with the arm action of a screwball.

Isn’t that right?

“I could tell you, but I’d have to kill you,” mused Varitek, eagerly awaiting a decision.

A short time later, in response to another question about Matsuzaka’s arsenal, Varitek nodded and said, “No.”

If you are somewhat mystified by all of this, do not be embarrassed. Matsuzaka has so many pitches that Varitek actually is using a cheat sheet similar to those employed by NFL quarterbacks. Depending on the game situation, the same sign can mean an entirely different pitch, which is why the time shared by Varitek and Matsuzaka this spring has been so critical.