GOODYEAR, Ariz.: To the surprise of nobody, manager Manny Acta named Justin Masterson as the Tribe's Opening Day starter this morning.
Masterson was the workhorse of the rotation last in 2011, making 34 starts and appearing once in relief. He amassed 216 innings and compiled a 12-10 record with as 3.21 earned-run average.
It is likely Masterson would have won at least four or five more games had his run support not been so meager. In 11 of his starts, the offense scored two or fewer runs, and seven times the attack managed to score one or no runs.
""This honor is well deserved,'' Acta said. ""Going into the season last year, we knew he had the stuff. But he had a rough season the year before, learning to be a starter.''
At 6-foot-6, 250 pounds, it was difficult for Masterson to maintain consistency with his mechanics. But after going 6-13 with a 4.70 ERA in 2010, things began to click for him.
""Justin was able to maintain his mechanics, which is something he had trouble with,'' Acta said. ""He was used to coming out of the bullpen and maintaining his delivery for an inning, which is a lot different from doing for 110 pitches.''
Masterson said pitching the first game of the season wasn't something that was on his mind.
""I didn't really think about it,'' he said. ""It's a neat thing. My philosophy has always been that each time you start, you have to be the ace that day. You want to be the tone setter for the season if you're the Opening Day starter.''