Justin Masterson’s status as the Indians’ Opening Day starter was mere formality.
But manager Terry Francona couldn’t resist sneaking the announcement into his post-game press conference after the Tribe defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-1 Tuesday at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.
“I thought our Opening Day starter looked pretty good,” Francona said. Masterson pitched four scoreless innings and didn’t allow a hit. He facing 12 batters, walked one, struck out one and hit two.
The season opener March 31 will mark the third consecutive year Masterson has earned the starting honor. He refused to comment on the possibility when he talked before the game ended, but Francona didn’t mind gushing.
“I think it’s a big honor for him, it’s a honor for us to tell him and I think he’s very deserving,” Francona said.
Francona was managing in Boston when the Red Sox traded Masterson, Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price to Cleveland for catcher Victor Martinez on July 31, 2009. Masterson, a product of Beavercreek (Ohio) High School and San Diego State, immediately became a starter for the Indians.
"We thought he had come a long way then,” Francona said, thinking about to 2009. “We can’t take credit for Masty. When we got Masty, he was already one of the nicest, most respectful kids you’ve ever seen.
“When we made that trade, it was hard. We were trying to win, but he’s a pretty special kid.”