Justin Masterson

Observations from Bright House Field: Not good day for Red Sox starters

Rob Bradford
March 15, 2015 - 12:41 pm

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The day began with the media surrounding Blake Swihart in the visitors clubhouse at Bright House Field, asking questions that, for the most part, had something to do with the catcher being part of trade rumors involving the team the Red Sox would ultimately drop an 11-4 decision to Sunday afternoon, the Phillies. (To read all of Swihart's and Red Sox manager John Farrell's comments on the issue, click here.) It ended with one of the Red Sox' pitchers for the day, Justin Masterson ending his media briefing with a reference to all the attention. "You guys talk about him getting traded to Philly?" Masterson said. "'Is this a really big game for you? If you rake in spring today, you will be a Philadelphia Phillie!'" Congratulations!'" Swihart did his part, raising his spring average to .538 with a 2-for-3 day. The same couldn't be said for the two members of the Red Sox' starting rotation making appearances against Philadelphia, Masterson and Wade Miley. The two combined to allow 10 runs on 13 hits and five walks over 6 1/3 innings. Masterson started the game and immediately had difficulty finding a proper arm slot, or proper velocity. It took the righty a full inning before touching 90 mph, ultimately maxing out at 91. "I finally got to the arm slot," he said. "We were just a little off trying to find it out there. Going a whole year of not really doing the right stuff, it's going to be this time in spring trying to make sure we get back to where we need to be. Once it got into that slot, I felt so much more power, so I was able to get to it. That'€™s where I was overthrowing in the last inning as I got tired, but I wanted to feel that same intensity. The arm strength is there, and it's progressing well. I'm just flying open a little bit, a little bit tired, but still kept the same velocity per se throughout the last two innings, which to me says a lot of good things about the arm strength getting there and building back up." Masterson was particularly worn out by the Phillies lefty hitters, allowing a pair of home runs. He ultimately finished his 3 1/3-inning outing by giving up six runs on seven hits. The starter came away with a healthy dose of optimism. "It's not even a comparison," Masterson said when asked to contrast how he feels now compared to a year ago. "My body feels tremendously great. My shoulder feels good; I wouldn'€™t say tremendously great but good and it's getting to the great spot. That'€™s what's so good, we're building up the arm strength. Those are the things that get me. Today we had the effort level for the last two but we were a little off. As we continue to get better, that will come. I'm really really excited especially compared to last year. "For me, I'm breaking some habits that maybe began all because of last year with the things I was dealing with, with a few injuries. So now breaking those now and really finding it again. Now that we're able to find it and get back to it, especially within a game, that'€™s monumental. In case you maybe get to a point where I'm not feeling it in warmups, now another checkpoint. This is how we get to it, this is what we need to do, and carry that into playing catch and my bullpen to really feel it, so that when I get into a game it just becomes natural. It's reteaching the muscles. Muscle memory '€” that'€™s what the game is." Miley didn't fare much better, giving up four runs on six hits and three walks over his three innings. "It's a big step back," the lefty said. "Wasn't very efficient at all. Didn't locate. Didn't make pitches. Put myself into some very bad situations. 2-0, especially with lefties. Didn't do a very good job against the lefties. One of those ones you just want to forget about. A couple steps backwards right there, but it's all right. It's spring training. Better now than later. Move on and go from there." - One of the few highlights for the Red Sox was Daniel Nava's two-run homer in the first inning, coming off of Philadelphia starter Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez. The Cuban righty pitcher, who the Red Sox had some interest in when he was a free agent, lived in the mid 90's while going 3 1/3 innings. He is vying for the fifth spot in the Phillies' rotation.