3/16/2014 7:42 P.M. ET
Masterson superb with three spring starts to go
By Joey Nowak and Tyler Emerick / MLB.com
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- If Justin Masterson is as close to regular-season ready as he says, opponents have the remaining days of Spring Training to concern themselves with what the Indians' ace can refine before Opening Day.
The Tribe's No. 1 starter was terrific Sunday against Chicago at Cubs Park, holding the Cubs scoreless over five innings while surrendering just two hits. He struck out eight and did not walk any of the 18 batters he faced.
"I don't think you ever really know, but I think we're right there," Masterson said. "If we had to play tomorrow, we'd be good enough. I think that's kind of the tale, the position I'm in -- a lot of guys, we're ready to go for the season and you want to stay strong throughout the season, so you can still be slicing and dicing when the playoffs come."
Masterson kept Cubs hitters off balance all afternoon -- he said he was "effectively wild" at times -- but was pleased with the movement on his offspeed pitches. Manager Terry Francona agreed.
"He had good movement on his two-seamer, threw some good breaking balls, and got five innings deep at a real low pitch count," Francona said. "We sent him down there to throw another simulated inning in the bullpen. And he's just building. As he continues to go out there, you see a little more power to the fastball, and he's got three more starts. He'll be ready to go."
This spring, Masterson has allowed just six hits in 13 shutout innings spanning four outings, striking out 14 and walking only two.
Masterson has been in talks with the Indians about a contract extension but said the negotiations didn't weigh on his mind Sunday, and there's not much news to report on that front.
"I think we're just going through it and seeing," Masterson said. "I know they're working. The ball's kind of in their court as we're going about it, just crunching some numbers and seeing some things. That's kind of where we're at."
Bourn departs early with tight hamstring
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Indians outfielder Michael Bourn left Sunday's game against the Giants in the middle of the second inning with left hamstring tightness and will be re-evaluated Monday.
"His hammy was a little tender so they took him out for precautionary reasons, and that's really all we know," manager Terry Francona said.
Bourn, who signed a four-year contract worth $48 million with the Indians in February 2013, underwent surgery on the same hamstring in October.
Expected to be the club's Opening Day center fielder, Bourn is batting .214 this spring in 28 at-bats. He went 1-for-2 on Sunday with a run scored.
Herrmann upbeat despite spring results
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Frank Herrmann's brief road to recovery this spring has so far been a rocky one.
The Indians reliever, coming back from Tommy John surgery, made his first two Cactus League appearances this week in Goodyear, and neither went particularly well. In two games (he didn't make it out of his one scheduled inning Saturday), Herrmann has given up six earned runs on eight hits, including three homers, while striking out one in 1 2/3 innings.
But the right-hander says he's not discouraged, and manager Terry Francona says he shouldn't be.
"If he went out and pitched a 1-2-3 inning, it might change the rest of his day where he's a little more upbeat, but other than that, he needs innings, he needs consistent innings," Francona said. "Because there's a little period there where you're still trying to make sure you feel good and then once you get fully confident, then you're fully competing. And that'll come."
Herrmann was tasked with opening Saturday's game against a D-backs team that will start the season in Australia well ahead of the rest of baseball. Thus, its lineup was full of starters who were more ramped up and ready for Opening Day.
"I've been on the training staff to get me into games for a while," Herrmann said. "I told them, 'I don't care if I get my butt kicked. I want to get out there and get my feet wet.' It's Spring Training. It's the perfect time to do that. I think there was value in [facing a full lineup of Major Leaguers], and also a litmus test a little bit to let me know where I'm at and what adjustments I need to implement."
Injured hand scratches Carson from Indians' game
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Outfielder Matt Carson was scratched from his Cactus League start Sunday because of lingering issues from when he was hit on the hand by a pitch Friday.
The outfielder was hit on the left hand in his only plate appearance against the White Sox at Camelback Ranch and has not played since. He was scheduled to bat seventh and play right field against the Cubs in Mesa on Sunday.
"He went out and did some stuff today," manager Terry Francona said Sunday. "In his own words, he says he's 80 percent. That doesn't make much sense for him to play."
Carson, 32, is hitting .292 with four runs, two doubles, a home run, two stolen bases and four RBIs in 15 Cactus League games this spring. He appeared in 20 games for the Tribe last season, going 7-for-11 with a home run and three RBIs.
"I told him, 'We know what you can do.' We also know he's competing," Francona said. "Some of how [the roster is built], when it comes down to the end, are going to be fits. I don't think Matt needs to play today. Saying that, I wouldn't be surprised if he's OK tomorrow."
Quote to note
"It's great. The timing is really good. We're enough into camp now where we'd like guys to kind of maybe almost have heavy legs. Play two or three in a row, have heavy legs. We've got a day off Thursday. We're going to select a group the next three days of probably five or six guys that will take BP and go home. So even though we're playing a lot of innings, we're not going to have them standing around. Then when that day off comes, it'll come at a perfect time, they can catch their breath and we'll go ahead and finish out the last 10 days of Spring Training." -- Francona on the timing of Sunday's split-squad games in Mesa and Scottsdale
• Sunday's game against the Cubs in Mesa was the Tribe's third opportunity to try out Major League Baseball's new instant-replay system. In the two previous instances with replay available, Francona has elected not to challenge any plays. He has said before he doesn't intend to use any opportunity as a practice run unless the situation truly calls for it.
"I don't want to force the issue," Francona said. "I don't think that makes any sense. I understand the rules. When the season starts, it's going to be different, regardless, because we're playing for keeps. I don't think we need to force the issue. If it's necessary, we'll try it. If it's not, we won't."
Francona said if replay were available, he would have requested a review of the play at the plate when Mike Aviles was thrown out in the second inning Saturday. The Indians' games Monday and March 24 against the Reds in Goodyear are the team's other two Cactus League games with instant replay available.
• Young right-hander Trevor Bauer pitched in a Minor League game Saturday, and Francona said it was a step forward after Bauer's last outing when he was tagged for seven runs (six earned) on six hits and three walks in two innings.
"Some pitches were up, but immediately after he threw one up, he threw the next one down," Francona said. "I would say it was a step in the right direction. ... We're going to figure it out together. I just wanted him to understand that. I don't want him to feel like he's on an island, and he doesn't have to be."
• Francona said outfielder Nyjer Morgan was going to stretch and go through morning drills Sunday, taking another step toward getting back into Cactus League games.
• Rotation candidates Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar will split Wednesday's Cactus League game against the A's. Carrasco is scheduled to throw five innings and Salazar four innings.
Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak. Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.