Twelve final thoughts for No. 12 seeds Harvard and North Dakota State, which have pulled off NCAA upsets.
1. Driving to Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, I figured this season would be right-hander Justin Masterson’s last with the Indians. But after talking to Masterson and hearing how upbeat he was, I feel differently.
2. Since Masterson wasn’t distracted by contract extension talks that have been going on since early January, he sees no reason his agent Rand Rowley and the Indians can’t talk during the season. That doesn’t happen very often, but it almost sounded like Masterson would push for it.
3. “There’s still time,” he said. “The season doesn’t end, well, hopefully until the World Series is over. Although it’s not probably going to be talked about in the next few months, there’s still always potential to make something happen. Even though it didn’t happen right now, I’m not overly disappointed. We’ll just push it back a little bit.”
4. He said there was no animosity when he talked to general manager Chris Antonetti Friday morning at the team’s Goodyear complex. “We get along very well. We worked through it, we tried hard, we enjoy each other, but at this moment we can’t make it happen. That’s fine. We’ll continue to go through the season,” Masterson said.
5. When I arrived in Arizona on March 5, things were supposedly close with Masterson. “There were times in the process we thought we were closer than others. Close doesn’t mean you get a deal done,” Antonetti said.
6. Masterson said great things about the Indians, manager Terry Francona said great things about Masterson, Antonetti said great things about Masterson. In most cases that would be idle chatter, but it doesn’t seem so in this case.
7. Both Antonetti and Francona marvel at how unaffected Masterson has been by the discussions. Friday he gave up his first two earned runs in five spring appearances and 19 total innings.
8. “It hasn’t affected the work that he’s done, the teammate that he is, how he interacts with players and coaches, with the front office the dynamic has been the same, you wouldn’t know he was working through anything contract-wise by the way he’s gone about his business. He’s been the consummate professional,” Antonetti said.
9. Antonetti said the six-year, $105 million contract the Reds gave Homer Bailey last month wasn’t the only model that came up in talks. “That’s one of the contract extensions that’s in the marketplace. We were very cognizant of that contract, but there were others. We didn’t attach it to any one contract,” Antonetti said.
10. Francona said he saw something from Masterson Friday that he might not have seen two years ago. “He said something to Mickey about not feeling great in his delivery, but his ability to make adjustments is good,” Francona said. “A couple years ago he might have had one of those long innings, now you see him reel it back in.”
11. Antonetti wouldn’t get into details about other players the Indians might be talking with. Second baseman Jason Kipnis will be arbitration eligible after this season. Asked about having a few more days to talk to his agent, Antonetti said, “Our preference is to try to have contract issues resolved prior to Opening Day, but we don’t have any black and white hard rules.”
12. Both Antonetti and Francona still consider Carlos Carrasco, Aaron Harang, Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer in the race for the final spot in the starting rotation. Francona said feedback was good on Bauer’s five innings for Triple-A Columbus against Triple-A Sacramento (Oakland A’s) Thursday. Bauer gave up two earned runs on three hits and struck out eight in 80 pitches. “(Pitching coach) Mickey (Callaway) said he was really good, drove his fastball down in the zone,” Francona said. “Real good step in the right direction. Really positive feedback from everybody who saw it.”