Masterson pleased with progress but needs more time

Masterson pleased with progress but needs more time

DETROIT -- Justin Masterson may not have wanted to go on the disabled list, but the Indians' sinkerballer is willing to accept that it was the right decision for the team. While sidelined, the pitcher has worked diligently on both his delivery and his recovery.

"We've made it beneficial," Masterson said prior to Thursday's workout at Comerica Park. "We've done a great job to make it beneficial. Whether you think you need it or not, make it be in our favor."

During the club's optional practice on Thursday, Masterson threw off the mound in a bullpen session, marking his fourth mound workout since being placed on the 15-day DL with a right knee injury on July 8. Over the All-Star break, Masterson has also played catch to avoid going too long without throwing.

Indians manager Terry Francona noted that the next step for Masterson will be to make a Minor League rehab start for Triple-A Columbus on Sunday, though the team is still determining how many innings the right-hander will go in that outing. What is clear is that Masterson will not be able to return to the big league rotation on Wednesday, when he is first eligible for activation.

Masterson has been pleased with the progress he has made behind the scenes.

"Yeah, I think so," Masterson said. "[I'm] feeling a little bit better. We're putting our body in a better position and not put any more stress on it. Just a touch better in mechanics and a couple other things. Pounding the zone."

On the season, Masterson has gone 4-6 with a 5.51 ERA in 19 starts, during which he has been admittedly bothered off and on by his right knee. Prior to landing on the DL, the big righty posted a 9.50 ERA with nearly as many walks (17) as strikeouts (19) in only 18 innings in his previous five starts combined.

Masterson, who was an American League All-Star last season, knows he needs to be better for his team in the second half.

"When I am doing well," Masterson said, "everyone else is having a good time and playing well. Being one of the leaders on the team, definitely [I want to perform better]. I don't feel like it is added pressure. [I need to] go out and be me and a lot of great things will happen."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.