GOODYEAR, Ariz.: Justin Masterson had a horrid start but stuck around to throw five innings and 77 pitches, as the Indians and Cincinnati Reds played to a 7-7 tie Sunday at Goodyear Ballpark.
Xavier Paul hit a three-run homer, and Todd Frazier whacked a two-run blast in the first inning, as Masterson gave up four hits and walked one before he retired the side.
“There were a couple of things,” manager Terry Francona said. “First of all, he had his best stuff of the spring. He left a couple of balls up, but when he got the ball down like he wanted, he had a tremendous sinker.”
After the first, Masterson yielded only one hit and a walk through the fifth.
His problems in the first centered around a small flaw. He opened up his hips a shade too far and was not directing the ball to the target area. He discovered the problem and fixed it.
“I threw some really good pitches, then I hung one,” he said, referring to Paul’s homer. “Frazier’s was just a high fly ball that you get in Arizona. Balls have been flying out of here the last couple of days.”
Before the game, Francona mentioned that Masterson “has embraced being the leader of the staff.”
Asked about being the No. 1 starter, Masterson said, “I feel really comfortable now. I didn’t quite have that feeling last spring.”
Francona said that he and Tribe staffers had extensive discussions about Daisuke Matsuzaka, who has fallen behind other starters and probably will have difficulty catching up because there aren’t enough innings to go around for more than six or seven starters.
“We’ll probably talk with him tomorrow,” Francona said.
That might mark the end of the Dice-K experiment.
Kazmir gets innings
Scott Kazmir pitched in a Triple-A game Sunday and gave up four runs (three earned), eight hits and one walk in five innings.
Until Sunday, he had not given up a run in 11 innings of work in exhibition games and Triple-A games. He has walked only three in 16 innings.
Perez on track
Chris Perez (shoulder strain) will throw another bullpen today, after a 15-pitch bullpen session Saturday.
“He’ll throw a monitored bullpen tomorrow,” Francona said. “But after that, he’ll have a regular mound day. He’s doing really well. His intensity has exceeded what we were hoping for.”
Nevertheless, Francona won’t commit to Perez being ready by Opening Day.
“If he’s ready, good,” Francona said. “If not, we’ll make adjustments.”
Francona continued to emphasize that he is not paying attention to spring training results. “I haven’t looked at one batting average,” he said. “I wouldn’t begin to know what guys are hitting.” ... Nick Swisher left the team to attend to a personal matter in Los Angeles. He will be back today. ... Delvi Cid, who played at “high” Class A Carolina last year, apparently was filled with confidence when he tripled home the winning runs in the ninth inning against the San Francisco Giants on Saturday night. “That kid told [bench coach] Sandy Alomar that if he got into the game, he would be the hero,” Francona said. “When he hit the triple, the whole dugout ran around like it was the World Series.”
The Indians remain in Goodyear today to play the Milwaukee Brewers. Ubaldo Jimenez will start against Marco Estrada. The game will be televised on SportsTime Ohio at 4 p.m.
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.