Masterson not focused on pitching line

Masterson not focused on pitching line

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- With the knowledge that he will begin this season as the Indians' Opening Day starter, Justin Masterson can take the mound this spring with the idea of working on specific tasks rather than pitching purely for results.

On Monday, when Masterson made his Cactus League debut, the sinkerballer walked away pleased with what he accomplished, even though the results printed in the box score will not look pretty to Indians fans.

"If it was a bullpen session, I'd be very happy with it," Masterson quipped. "Overall, I was pretty happy with it."

In a 12-7 loss to the Reds, Masterson gave up six runs on five hits in just 1 1/3 innings, falling short of the two frames he was initially expected to throw. The big righty walked three hitters and struck out one, ending the afternoon was 45 pitches, including 25 for strikes.

Masterson was quick to note that he threw only fastballs in his outing, even in situations when he might have used a slider in the regular season. His goal for his first start of the spring was to focus on his command, and to also get a feel again for his signature sinker. His comfort level with the sinker still has a ways to go.

"Do you want a 1-10 scale? Zero to 100 percent?" Masterson said. "For the feel of it, we're about halfway there -- just nice and easy. It had some decent run today, and some didn't do what it was supposed to do. Overall, I'd say we're about halfway to having a good feel for it."

Indians manager Manny Acta had no issues with Masterson's outing.

"Masterson had good stuff for the first time out in Spring Training," Acta said. "Power guys, it usually takes them a little longer, but he wasn't that far off. He was barely missing, but they took advantage of the hitter's counts. I can't complain.

"He gave up those runs, but it wasn't like he had [catcher Carlos Santana] going back and forth like a goalie back there. I felt he was just off a little bit. It's the first game. He's not going to be using every pitch he's got in his arsenal. You live with it."

Last spring, Masterson had a similar start, allowing eight runs over his first 12 innings in Cactus League play. Overall, the right-hander went 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA in Spring Training before cruising to a 5-0 record with a 2.18 ERA in April. On the season, Masterson went 12-10 with a 3.21 ERA in a breakout showing for the Tribe.

"It's the exact same spot I'm in every spring," Masterson joked. "So it's perfect."