By Sheldon Ocker
Beacon Journal sports writer
CLEVELAND: As of now, Justin Masterson will miss only one start, but nobody is predicting when the ace of the Indians’ staff will return to the rotation.
After undergoing an MRI scan, Masterson was diagnosed with a strain of the left oblique. He felt a twinge in his rib cage in the first inning of his start against the Orioles on Monday and was forced out of the game after giving up a single to the leadoff batter in the second inning.
‘‘He will definitely miss a start,’’ manager Terry Francona said Tuesday. ‘‘After that, we’ll go on symptoms. He can’t do anything until he is pain free. So we will go completely on that. After [the first missed start], you just don’t know.’’
Masterson echoed his manager, saying: ‘‘Everything is going to depend on how I feel. We’ll take a couple of days, maybe three and then assess what we’ve got.
‘‘It could be a short time, it could take a little while. It’s not worse than it was yesterday. I feel it a little when I cough.’’
In the past when Tribe pitchers have sustained a similar injury, they have missed four to six weeks, but there has been no such prognosis for Masterson.
‘‘He’s going to miss a little time, but hopefully it won’t be the rest of the season,’’ Francona said.
Masterson said he didn’t know how long his recovery would take.
‘‘The doctor at the Holiday Inn Express didn’t give me the skills to understand,’’ Masterson said, doing a play on words of the TV commercial. ‘‘The scan shows a little hemorrhaging, some blood in there from the strain. But there’s a lot of that mumbo jumbo I don’t understand.’’
Masterson said that earlier in the season, he felt a twinge in his rib cage, but it disappeared quickly.
‘‘The soreness was similar, but it didn’t lead to this feeling,’’ he said. ‘‘I guess it waited until late in the season, so it would be more exciting.’’
If Masterson has to miss multiple starts, it could impact the Tribe’s chances to stay in the race for the second wild-card spot.
Fortunately for the Indians, Corey Kluber is recovered from a sprained middle pitching finger and is ready to return to the rotation.