SEATTLE: Justin Masterson said Wednesday night that his right knee has been sore since his second start of the season.
But the Indians right-hander sounded optimistic that the two extra days rest he’ll get by skipping Sunday’s start against the Seattle Mariners in Safeco Field will be what he needs.
“Of course. If I didn’t we’d probably do more,” Masterson said Friday before the Indians opened a three-game series against the Mariners. “[They said] ‘Let’s make sure we get those legs underneath you.’ I think a couple days will be fine. If not, we’ll re-evaluate. I think it’s a good start.”
He said the All-Star break July 14-17 could also help.
Tribe manager Terry Francona said left-hander T.J. House will be recalled from Triple-A Columbus to pitch Sunday. Masterson is scheduled to start Tuesday in Los Angeles against the Dodgers.
Francona said Zach McAllister, also in Columbus, could be an option for Tuesday if Masterson needs more time. Masterson will throw a bullpen session in Seattle today or Sunday to see how the knee is responding to treatment.
The question Francona didn’t know how to answer was whether the knee issue has contributed to Masterson’s disappointing season. In the final year of his contract, Masterson is 4-5 with a 5.03 ERA in 93 innings of 17 starts. Since spring training, his velocity has been down.
Asked if the knee explains Masterson’s decline on the radar gun, Francona said: “I really don’t know. When Masty’s pitching and locating, I don’t think his velocity is an issue. I think he’s proved that. When he’s not locating and having a tough time with lefties, that’s when it starts to become a little bit of an issue.”
Masterson had a similar response.
“Who knows? It’s a possibility,” he said. “Only time will tell.”
Francona suspects the knee was bothering Masterson more than he was letting on. Masterson gave details to Cleveland.com after Wednesday night’s 6-1 road victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“My guess is probably yeah, but I’m guessing it was a little bit inconsistent, like sometimes better and sometimes worse,” Francona said.
As to whether the knee gives the Indians a tangible explanation for Masterson’s struggles, Francona said, “I don’t think it helps. When it gets to a point when it’s affecting your pitching — it’s hard to put a number or a date on it — I think sometimes you step in and grab a guy and say, ‘Come on, tell us more.’ Since we had the off days we could get around it without having him go on the DL or us playing way short.”
The Indians had off days Monday and Thursday before and after a two-game series in Arizona.
Masterson didn’t want to say if he hesitated to tell the Indians what was wrong.
“We all have stuff going on throughout an entire season, you can’t go through every nagging injury,” he said. “It got to a point where we had an opportunity to bring a guy up and get two days, so why not do it? It’s just an opportunity to get some rest.”
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