Justin Masterson has been pitching (poorly) through a knee injury all season

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Indians right-hander Justin Masterson was scratched from his scheduled Sunday start against the Mariners with knee soreness and later revealed to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer that he’s been dealing with the issue since the second start of the season.

Masterson tossed seven shutout innings on Opening Day to seemingly build off a very strong 2013 campaign, but since then–and apparently during the period his knee has been a problem–he’s posted a 5.44 ERA in 16 starts while walking 49 batters in 83 innings.

There have been some good starts sprinkled into that stretch, but Masterson has failed to make it past five innings nine times in 16 outings, which is very uncharacteristic. The ongoing knee injury may help explain why the Indians have been so hesitant to sign Masterson to a contract extension at what were reported to be very reasonable demands, and perhaps it’s also why Masterson’s demands have been so reasonable with free agency right around the corner.

Danny Duffy exits spring training game with left shoulder tightness

Danny Duffy
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Royals’ Opening Day starter Danny Duffy weathered a minor scare during Saturday’s Cactus League game against the Diamondbacks. The left-hander was removed from his final spring training start after experiencing some left shoulder tightness in the second and third innings. No lasting damage appears to have been done — Duffy told reporters that he simply felt a slight ache, nothing more — and it looks like he’ll remain on track to open the season with the team next Thursday.

The 29-year-old southpaw is coming off one of his best performances to date. Despite losing a few weeks to an oblique strain and elbow soreness, he went 9-10 in 24 starts and finished the 2017 season with a 3.81 ERA, 2.5 BB/9 and 8.0 SO/9 over 146 1/3 innings. While Duffy entered camp with a clean bill of health, he struggled to execute against his spring training opponents and racked up 13 runs, four homers, seven walks and 11 strikeouts in 13 innings of Cactus League play.

The Royals are scheduled to kick off their home opener against the White Sox on Thursday, March 29 at 4:15 PM ET. Barring any further complications with his shoulder, Duffy will take the mound for the Royals, while James Shields is expected to make his first Opening Day appearance for the White Sox.