Masterson shows improvement in rehab start

Cleveland ace threw 71 pitches in five innings for Triple-A Clippers.

Justin Masterson was solid in a start for Triple-A Columbus on Friday night. 

Kirby Lee / USA TODAY Sports

COLUMBUS -- Compared to his last couple starts, Friday's outing for Justin Masterson was an improvement. Now the question becomes what's next?

The right-hander went 6 2/3 innings for Columbus in their 5-2 loss to Norfolk on Friday. Masterson, who threw 108 pitches (62 strikes) allowed five runs on four hits with six walks and four strikeouts.

In his first rehab start last Sunday against Indianapolis, Masterson worked five innings and threw 71 pitches as he allowed a pair of runs on five hits with two walks and six strikeouts. Masterson didn't make it to the fifth inning in any of his last three starts for the Indians before landing on the disabled list.

Said Masterson of his outing: "I thought was good and better than the last time which is what you are looking for. I felt pretty good. More the most part I'm happy with it."

Masterson's sinker looked very effective as it had some late movement on most of them. A concern though remains velocity, which was slightly down, as Norfolk got most of their hits on the four-seam fastball. He did say that his right knee, which has been bothering him since his second start of the season, is improving and isn't bothering him while he is pitching.

"Overall I thought it was a strong outing for what he wanted to accomplish," Columbus manager Chris Tremie said.

Masterson retired the side in order in only two innings but didn't allow a hit until Jimmy Parades doubled to left to put runners on second and third to start the fourth. Quintin Berry tied the game at one when he scored on a Christian Walker sacrifice fly and Parades would score on a Steve Clevinger single.

In the seventh, Ivan DeJesus got on with a one-out walk, advanced to second on a Brian Ward single and then took third two batters later on a Berry walk, which chased Masterson. With C.C. Lee in, DeJesus scored on a wild pitch and Parades had a two-run single to left.

Masterson will return to Cleveland for the weekend and continue his rehab work there before the Indians return from their 11-game road trip Sunday. If Masterson does get taken off the DL, he could start on Wednesday or Thursday against Seattle.

"We'll reassess after this and see what is best interest of everyone," Masterson said. You have to get healthy and be able to help out the team and we are moving in that direction."

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