GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Justin Masterson has not been told if he will be starting on Opening Day for the Indians, but the big sinkerballer can at least rest easy knowing he heads into Spring Training with no restrictions after offseason shoulder surgery.
"I'm all locked and loaded," Masterson said on Wednesday, when the Tribe's pitchers and catchers held their first official workout of the spring.
Fortunately for the Indians, the operation Masterson needed over the winter involved his left, non-throwing shoulder. It is his right arm that has helped the pitcher emerge as a staff leader and a candidate to start the season opener against the Blue Jays on April 5 in Cleveland.
Masterson underwent an arthroscopic procedure -- performed by Dr. Craig Morgan in Wilmington, Del. -- to repair a labrum tear in his left shoulder on Oct. 12. It is an issue that dates back to Masterson's days with the Red Sox. The pitcher had a cyst operated on in 2007 and knew the labrum issue would likely flare up at some point.
"We just kind of waited, waited and waited," Masterson said. "Four or five years later, it's like, 'Yep.' I started to get that pain and it was more with the labral tear, so it was like, 'Let's just clean it up.'"
Masterson, who went 12-10 with a 3.21 ERA over 34 starts for the Tribe last season, noted that the left shoulder pain was an problem during his final start of 2011. In that Sept. 23 outing against the Twins, he issued a season-high six walks and exited after throwing 106 pitches in 4 2/3 innings.
In five September starts, Masterson went 2-2 with a 5.65 ERA for the Indians.
"I guess it could've had an effect on some other things," Masterson said. "The last one, it was hard to lift the shoulder. I dealt with it four or five years ago. It's not something you can't work through."
That said, Masterson is happy to have the latest surgery behind him and is ready for a full Spring Training with the Indians. The starter was actually able to begin his winter throwing program earlier than in past offseasons and he indicated that he quickly regained flexibility in his left arm.
"The process went well," Masterson said. "There's really no restrictions. It's been fine. There's been no issues. It's been good."