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Masterson on track to start against Rangers

KANSAS CITY -- The Indians wanted more than one conversation before making a firm decision on the next step in Justin Masterson's return from a right knee injury. In going through a variety of scenarios, the club made a pair of calls to the pitcher to talk things over.

Following a shaky rehab outing with Triple-A Columbus on Friday, Masterson insisted that he was healthy and ready to rejoin the Tribe's rotation. Manager Terry Francona noted on Saturday that the right-hander will indeed be activated from the 15-day disabled list to start against the Rangers next Friday at Progressive Field.

"We talked to Masty a couple times today," Francona said on Saturday, "just because we want to not just go on a linescore. He was able to get stretched out and he actually feels pretty good about himself."

The linescore was not pretty.

In 6 2/3 innings against Triple-A Norfolk, Masterson was charged with five runs on four hits with four strikeouts and six walks. The sinkerballer ran his pitch count to 108 before exiting with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh inning. The three baserunners inherited by Columbus reliever C.C. Lee all came around to score, doing further damage to Masterson's line.

Francona said it was important to get Masterson's input.

"We wanted to see how he felt," Francona said. "He said that he feels much better about attacking the strike zone. He said there were times where he threw some pitches that he probably wouldn't in a Major League game, which is understandable.

"We just want to make sure he's ready to go, because when he comes back, he's back. He was pretty strong in his opinion that he was ready and that another [rehab start] wouldn't help him."

Through 19 starts this season -- the last coming on July 7 -- Masterson has gone 4-6 with a 5.51 ERA, along with 93 strikeouts and 56 walks in 98 innings.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.
Read More: Cleveland Indians, Justin Masterson