SEATTLE: Two intense days of treatment on Justin Masterson’s inflamed right knee may make all the difference.
Masterson looked good in his bullpen session Saturday before the Indians faced the Seattle Mariners in Safeco Field, keeping him on track to start in Tuesday’s road game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Masterson was scratched from his scheduled start Sunday, with rookie T.J. House arriving from Triple-A Columbus to take his place.
“From what I saw today, whatever he’s done the last couple days to make it feel better, he was probably throwing harder today than I’ve seen him throw all year, even in a game,” Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway said. “I know his intensity with his delivery was better than I’ve seen all year. Maybe that one game where he started rattling off a bunch of strikes, it was the same as that.”
Masterson struck out 10 Boston Red Sox June 2 when he threw seven scoreless innings and allowed three hits. But he hasn’t been the same since and Wednesday at Arizona said he’d had a problem with the right knee since his second game of the season.
Masterson said he’d been “crushing it as far as therapy-type things,” which included electrical stimulation, icing and pain relievers that “will be able to kick in in a couple days that will help with inflammation.” He said he has not needed a cortisone injection and did not have an MRI.
“The inflammation, we’ve gotten it down a little bit, we’ll fight it for the next couple weeks,” he said. “I think we’ve got it to a good point where it can stay down.”
But Masterson said he’s not used to being under the watchful eye of head trainer James Quinlan.
“I looked at him today and said, ‘I’m tired of seeing you. It’s not you, it’s the room,’ ” Masterson said. “Usually I don’t go in there. It’s not something I want to get used to. They’re nice people, but….”
House back — House endured a six-hour flight from Buffalo and is ready for today’s start against Mariners ace right-hander Felix Hernandez, the 2010 American League Cy Young Award winner.
“I actually didn’t know until today. My brother-in-law was like, ‘You’re going to face King Felix.’ That’s so awesome,’” House said. “I was laughing. It’s cool to be able to do it. It’s going to be fun. I want to match up pitch-for-pitch with him.”
His family in Picayune, Miss., is holding a cookout and will watch the game together.
“He also knows if he pitches well, he can get people out,” Indians manager Terry Francona said of House. “He’s kept us in every game he’s pitched so far against some pretty good teams. They’ve got predominantly a left-handed hitting team, this sets up good for him. Now he’s facing Felix, that’s not so good.”
House is encouraged that the Indians called him up for the second time.
“I feel as if they have some confidence in me,” he said. “I feel more comfortable being able to come up here and pitch more like me.”
Lonnie sits — Francona started Mike Aviles over Lonnie Chisenhall at third Saturday because Aviles will play today against Hernandez and he wanted to get Aviles in the lineup in back-to-back games. Aviles carries a .412 batting average in 17 at-bats against Hernandez. Francona didn’t rule out Chisenhall pinch-hitting Saturday night.
— Marla Ridenour