PEORIA, Ariz.: One by one, Indians starters are making their final spring-training appearances, and the idea, believe it or not, has nothing to do with throwing a no-hitter.
Pitchers don’t always peak in their last exhibition game, at least not on the stat sheet. So when Justin Masterson gave up two runs, six hits and one walk in five innings, Tribe manager Terry Francona was all smiles (and Masterson did strike out seven).
“His fastball had really good life,” Francona said. “He got to the point where he pitched enough but not too much. The way he’s situated going into the season, he should feel good about himself.”
Masterson’s next start will be on Opening Day against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on Tuesday night. In six spring-training outings, he posted a 4.76 ERA in 22⅔ innings, walking six and striking out 26.
Chris Perez threw one inning and managed to squeeze in two home runs, but Perez has pitched little in the spring because of a strained oblique.
“He’ll have one more outing,” Francona said. “He’s good to go. The ball is coming out of his hand good.”
The offense did little, save for two hits each by Carlos Santana and Drew Stubbs plus a home run by Jason Kipnis, who batting .170 for the spring.
“Jason got eight at-bats in the minors a few days ago, and I think it helped him,” Francona said. “I just think he feels a little frustrated.”
Keeping his options open
The Indians will have eight relievers to open the season, but only three — closer Chris Perez, setup man Vinnie Pestano and seventh-inning specialist Joe Smith — will have specific responsibilities.
Other than the back-end relief jobs, which duties will go to which pitchers?
“When we get to Toronto, I’ll talk to those guys,” Francona said. “The best thing is to take a couple of weeks to figure it out.”
Tour de force
Carlos Carrasco pitched in a Triple-A game and worked five hitless innings, striking out seven.
“They said his fastball was sitting at 95,” Francona said. “Most of the time when a guy goes to the back fields, his velocity goes down, because nobody is in the stands, things like that. Nobody knows why it would go up.”
Francona earlier said that one reason Carrasco was switched from a big-league exhibition game to a minor-league game was that he might be upset after failing to land a roster spot.
“No that’s not the reason [for the increased velocity],” Francona said,” because I know he wasn’t mad.”
Asdrubal Cabrera (sore back) took batting practice Wednesday but was not in the lineup Thursday.
“He’s doing well,” Francona said. “I’m contemplating that tomorrow he will be the DH in a minor-league game, or he might play in our game, or I might wait another day. But he’s definitely on pace for Opening Day.”
The Indians travel to Surprise, Ariz., today to play the Kansas City Royals. Ubaldo Jimenez will start against Jeremy Guthrie.
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at email@example.com.