CLEVELAND: Justin Masterson probably is a simulated game away from returning to the Tribe's staff.
""We met with Masty,'' manager Terry Francona said today. ""What we want him to do is throw a simulated game, a couple of innings. We'd like to do it off the game mound to amp up the intensity.
""We want to do it after tomorrow's game or on Monday, depending on some logistical things. Then we'll give him a couple of days and put him in our bullpen.''
With the minor-league season having ended early in September, there is nowhere Masterson can pitch to build up his arm strength and pitch six or more innings. Consequently, starting is out for now.
""It's unrealistic for him to go deep into games,'' Francona said. ""But hopefully he can impact our games out of the bullpen.''
Masterson hasn't pitched since Sept. 2, because of a strained oblique.