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Masterson throws 4 2/3

Posted by Amalie Benjamin  March 26, 2009 04:38 PM

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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- While the rest of the Red Sox were off playing 18 holes, Justin Masterson got minor-league duty this afternoon, throwing 4 2/3 innings at the minor league complex for the Sox' Double A club. In his outing, Masterson pitched well, allowing four hits and two walks and striking out six batters. He allowed no runs to score, and threw 81 pitches (50 strikes).

"Five up and downs was just from an endurance standpoint the goal today," pitching coach John Farrell said. "I thought it was a very good workday overall for him."

While the team had expected to have an answer for Masterson about the role he'll play this season after his last outing, they pushed that back. And they still don't have an answer, though it appears that the health of Brad Penny -- and whether he'll be stretched out enough by April 12, the first time the Sox need a fifth starter -- will be a major factor.

But his next outing is "to be announced," according to Farrell. Masterson will throw a bullpen in two days, then "large in part because of how Brad gets through his start on Saturday against Minnesota, provided there's no health issues there, I think once we gather that additional information we'll have a better read on what we do with Justin in the final week of spring training."

Farrell said that Clay Buchholz is still in the mix for the fifth starter spot, though Masterson looks to be the favorite right now, despite Buchholz's impressive spring performance. Farrell did say the spring has also gone well for Masterson.

"As we had hoped, particularly bringing him in under the situation of providing an option as a starting pitcher for us, which he still clearly is an option for us," Farrell said. "Part of that is to get him out to this level of pitch count and potentially beyond. A number of things factor in to that, certainly the performance of others and the health of others. He's doing everything we could have anticipated."

Rocco Baldelli also made an appearance at the minor league complex. He batted in both the Double A and Triple A games and hit an enormous home run off a left-handed pitcher out to left along with a nice double. He struck out twice.

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