GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Justin Masterson is off the yo-yo string. His days of bouncing back and forth between the bullpen and rotation in Boston are over.
Now, all he has to do is prove he can start in Cleveland.
The Indians have plenty of questions as they turn things over to the kids, and how Masterson fares is high atop the list. Acquired as part of the Victor Martinez trade last July, the 25-year-old right-hander is hoping to complete his first full season as a starter this summer since 2007.
Boston's second-round pick in the 2006 draft, Masterson made his major-league debut just two years later, appearing in 36 games and starting nine for the Red Sox. That fall, in '08, he became the seventh-youngest pitcher ever to win a postseason game for the Red Sox (23 years and 208 days).
With the Red Sox loaded with pitchers, he broke camp with the team in 2009 as a reliever but moved into the rotation after only four relief appearances when Daisuke Matsuzaka was disabled. Masterson wound up appearing in 31 games for the '09 Sox, starting six of them.
He was traded to Cleveland on July 31, whereupon he made one relief appearance before finishing the season with 10 consecutive starts. He went 1-7 with a 4.55 ERA for the Indians, putting him in a classic spring position now: Happy to be given a clean slate in a new place, where the sky is the limit
"It's a real fun place," Masterson says. "What's also interesting is that there's a lot of energy here, but not the nervousness that comes with it. These guys believe they can play."
Sunblock Day? It's into the 70s and predicted to be into the 80s by week's end. Better late than never.
Likes: Cubs manager Lou Piniella, in describing pitcher Ted Lilly's low-key rehabilitation from arthroscopic shoulder surgery over the winter: "We want to keep him under the radar gun and not talk about it much." Not sure if Lou wants to keep him low profile this spring or keep Lilly's velocity down. ... Gotta love that spring training team bonding. There was a signup sheet on the door to the Indians' clubhouse the other day entitled "Bull Riding Event" at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale. And there were 17 Indians' players signed up to attend. ... Arizona manager A.J. Hinch says that Conor Jackson, who missed almost all of last season with Valley Fever, is swinging to well this spring that he wishes he could put Jackson "on ice" until opening day. I don't think he meant that literally, but you get the drift. ... Cool that actress Betty White will host Saturday Night Live's Mother's Day show in May. ... New discovery: Frank & Lupe's Mexican joint in Old Scottsdale. Outstanding fish tacos there the other night. ... Exactly how Bob Dylan came to record the old children's song This Old Man, I don't know. But it's here, and it's highly entertaining.
Dislikes: RIP Merlin Olsen, who seemed like one of the nicest men on the planet.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"He's going back to New York, pack it up and let everyone know
"It was something that he should have done such a long time ago
"Still time to start a new life in the palm trees
"Ah, Billy Clyde wasn't insane
"And if it doesn't work out
"There'll never be any doubt
"That the pleasure was worth all the pain"
-- Jimmy Buffett, The Weather is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful