Wood sharp in spring debut as Cubs fall in shutout
Grimm's bases-loaded walk in fourth inning the difference vs. Indians
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Justin Masterson took the mound at Goodyear Ballpark on Thursday afternoon amidst ongoing contract talks with the Indians. The big right-hander turned in three shutout innings to set the tone for Cleveland's 1-0 victory over the Cubs.
"I was very distracted," Masterson joked. "I wasn't sure what I was going to do. I was very nervous."
In his second Cactus League outing of the spring, Masterson ended with no runs allowed on three hits and three strikeouts against one walk. The sinkerballer worked out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the first inning and avoided further damage in the remainder of his performance.
Masterson is focusing on building up for Opening Day on the field, while his agent discusses a multi-year extension with the Indians behind the scenes. Masterson's camp presented Cleveland with an offer -- one that could pave the way for a three- or four-year deal -- last weekend, but the Indians have yet to counter the pitcher's proposal.
"We're still talking through it," Masterson said. "I'm sure they're looking through it and seeing what they smartly want to counter back or just say, 'Hey, yeah, sounds great. Let's do this.'"
As for his outing, Masterson said there is plenty of room for improvement.
"I felt OK," Masterson said. "Nothing over the top, but it was nice getting out there, making some pitches. I was mixing in some more sliders. We were getting around those a little bit and underneath the sinker every once in a while, but for the most part I was pretty happy."
The Cubs gave the start to Travis Wood, who also turned in three scoreless innings and finished with three strikeouts, no walks and one hit allowed. Chicago hit a bump in the road in the fourth inning, when Justin Grimm took over on the hill.
Nick Swisher and Jason Kipnis opened with back-to-back singles off Grimm, who later loaded the bases with one out by hitting Michael Brantley with a pitch. Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera then drew a walk with the bags full to force in a run, pushing the Indians to a 1-0 lead.
Aaron Harang and Trevor Bauer -- two of the four pitchers vying for the only opening in Cleveland's rotation -- followed Masterson out of the bullpen. Harang turned in two shutout innings with two strikeouts and one walk, and Bauer added two scoreless frames of his own. Bauer struck out four batters and avoided any runs after loading the bases with one out in the sixth inning.
Up next for Cubs: Edwin Jackson and James McDonald will each start on Friday as the Cubs play split-squad games. Jackson will be on the mound for the game at Cubs Park against the Indians, making his second spring start. Javier Baez, who leads the team with two home runs, will start at shortstop with another top prospect, Kris Bryant, starting at third. McDonald will start in the Cubs' game in Tempe against the Angels. Mike Olt will be the designated hitter in that game with Junior Lake in center and Luis Valbuena at second. The Cubs' game in Mesa against the Indians will be broadcast on Cubs.com.