(SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.) - It seemed like the perfect day to name Justin Masterson the Cleveland Indians Opening Day starter.
Following his most dominant outing of spring camp in which the right-hander pitched four no-hit innings in a 7-1 Cactus League win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, manager Terry Francona announced that Masterson would start the season at the top of the Tribe’s rotation.
The Indians open the season on March 31 in Oakland against the Athletics.
Francona’s announcement really didn’t come as a surprise, merely a formality.
"I think it's a big honor for him," Francona said. "I think it's an honor for us to tell him, and I think he's very deserving."
Thanks to three double-plays and a strikeout, Masterson carved up the Diamondbacks and continued his preparation for the 2014 season.
Francona had no problem bragging about Masterson’s performance following yet another Cactus League exhibition victory.
"I thought our opening-day starter looked pretty good," Francona said. "He's ramping it up. He's getting his foundation. He's getting deeper and deeper and he'll continue to do so. He's got good movement on his two-seamer. He'll ramp up his fastball when he wants to and he's working on getting that breaking ball in season form. That's what a good pro does."
This will be Masterson’s third-straight Opening Day start for the Indians.
Last season Masterson went 14-10 with an ERA of 3.45.
Following his outing on Tuesday Masterson met with the media during the sixth inning and mentioned how contract extension talks with the Indians were continuing. Two weeks ago Masterson made it clear that he was open to a shorter-term deal to stay in Cleveland for less years and less money. The Indians are now 10-2-1 this spring which is the best record in the Cactus League.
- Nick Camino