Francona names Masterson Tribe’s Opening Day starter
Terry Francona named his opening-day starter and then watched the Kansas City Royals thump a couple of Cleveland’s relievers.
Billy Butler homered and drove in three runs Tuesday for the unbeaten Royals in a 4-1 win, handing Cleveland its first loss in six spring games.
Before the game, Francona told Justin Masterson in the dugout that he would be the Indians’ starting pitcher in Toronto on April 2.
Francona didn’t think it was an odd venue to make such an announcement.
“I was excited to tell him and didn’t feel like holding it in,” he said. “I just wanted to let Masty get his legs under him. He’s the leader of our staff. We want him to be the leader. I think it’s an honor.”
So does Masterson.
“I’m happy,” he said. “I was hoping for it.”
It will be Masterson’s second season-opening start. A year ago, the 28-year-old struck out 10 over eight innings against the Blue Jays in Cleveland, allowing two hits and one run in a game that the Indians went on to lose in 16 innings, 7-4.
“This year it is going to be in a different country,” Masterson joked. “It was a pretty cool experience. I just hope this time to get a victory.”
Royals manager Ned Yost has yet to reveal rotation plans. In fact, Wade Davis became the first rotation pitcher used this spring by Kansas City. Acquired with fellow right-hander James Shields from Tampa Bay this winter, Davis started and gave up one single over two innings.
Francona would not say if RHP Ubaldo Jimenez is in line to be Cleveland’s No. 2 starter, which could have him working the sold-out home opener April 8 against the New York Yankees. “Those things will fall into place,” Francona said. ... Butler and non-roster invitees Willy Taveras and Xavier Nady each had two of Kansas City’s 12 hits. ... The Royals, 4-0-1, are hitting .356. ... Royals CF Jarrod Dyson was 2-for-3 in steal attempts. ... Royals LHP Donnie Joseph struck out all three he faced. ... Cleveland OF Michael Brantley sat out with 15 stitches for a sewn-up laceration on his left forearm. He got spiked Monday and is expected to be sidelined about 10 days.