Baseball / Sports

Indians' Justin Masterson to get help with knee, bad habits

CLEVELAND -- The long-awaited decision by the Indians regarding what to do with struggling pitcher Justin Masterson finally came to a head late Monday night following the Indians' 5-3 loss to the New York Yankees.

Masterson, who took the loss after spotting the visitors a five-run lead in just two-plus innings, met with Tribe General Manager Chris Antonetti, manager Terry Francona and pitching coach Mickey Callaway. During the meeting of the minds, the group mapped out a new course for the right-hander in an effort to try to get him back the form that once made him the staff ace and an American League All-Star.

"His first inclination was wanting to pitch through it, which we respect," Francona said of Masterson, who has made eight starts in which he's lasted less than five innings. "But we thought that we DL him, get him some treatment for the first couple days or whatever he needs with his knee. Then when he feels good, almost treat it like spring training with (Callaway and Masterson) going every other day off the mound once Masty's able to handle that physically. Just to get the repetition, we believe that's our best way to get him back on track."

Thus, the move to finally put Masterson on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday afternoon was at the center of a flurry of roster moves for the club. With Masterson sidelined, Triple-A catcher Roberto Perez and left-handed reliever Nick Hagadone were called up from Columbus, outfielder Tyler Holt was optioned back to Columbus and pitcher Mark Lowe was designated for assignment.

In the meantime, Masterson (4-6 with a 5.51 ERA in 19 starts) and Callaway will strip down the 6-foot-6, 250-pounder's bad habits and get back to the basics in the hopes that Masterson finds his way back to being the commanding sinkerball pitcher who was known for being an innings eater.

"When there's been runners on base, he's lost his command," Francona said of Masterson's issues. "It's been difficult for him to find it and throw the strikes he needs to -- and not just throw a ball over the plate to get back into the count and somebody whacks it -- but to execute a pitch."

Until that happens, right-handers Danny Salazar and Zach McAllister -- both of whom started the season in the Indians starting rotation -- have been pitching well enough at Columbus to make spot starts as needed or reclaim their former roles in the big leagues.

(c)2014 Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

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