Justin Masterson Given Two Options By Boston Red Sox With Return Looming

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Justin Masterson received a proposal from the Boston Red Sox before Friday?s game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium.

Masterson, who made his fourth rehab start Tuesday with Triple-A Pawtucket, can either rejoin the Red Sox and pitch out of the bullpen or make another rehab start for the PawSox and reassess the situation after that, according to manager John Farrell. The right-hander was given a chance to sleep on it.

“He hasn’t pitched in the bullpen in quite some time,” Farrell told reporters in Kansas City. “So to get him back in, one is a complement of style, another right-hander with the current alignment we have here in the ?pen. Where that matchup ability will be, first and foremost, is going to depend on the lineup and game situation, and to say he would walk into a defined role is probably a little premature at this point.”

Masterson made three relief appearances last season, but he?s been primarily a starter since the Red Sox traded him to the Cleveland Indians at the Major League Baseball non-waiver trade deadline in 2009. Thus, there?s no guarantee he?ll succeed in a bullpen role, particularly given the diminished velocity he?s shown the last couple of seasons.

However, there currently isn?t a spot available in the Red Sox?s rotation. Eduardo Rodriguez has locked down a spot with four excellent outings in five starts, and Joe Kelly?s upside makes him a better rotation option at this point than Masterson, who posted a 6.37 ERA in seven starts before landing on the disabled list. Clay Buchholz, Rick Porcello and Wade Miley all have spots secured.

It?s a tricky situation, indeed. And perhaps Masterson will accept a relief role and find a new niche, as the 30-year-old seemingly has arrived at a crossroads in his career. He still has a strong track record against right-handed hitters.

Either way, Farrell didn?t rule out Masterson rejoining the Red Sox?s rotation at some point in the future if a need arises, even if the right-hander initially rejoins the club as a reliever.

?If it were in the next 10 days and he was in the bullpen, we feel like he?s built up enough pitches that if he didn?t start for five, six days, he could be inserted into the rotation if needed,? Farrell said. “Those are all things being discussed and factored.?

Masterson is ready physically and the options have been outlined. The ball?s in his court.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images

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