Indians may turn to Opening Day starter Justin Masterson as playoff closer

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Justin Masterson is still building back arm strength after missing time with an oblique injury late in the season and Chris Perez pitched his way out of the closer job with a brutal final month, so Mark Emery of MLB.com wonders if the Indians could end up giving Masterson a look in the ninth inning.

For now manager Terry Francona is simply saying he’ll use a closer-by-committee approach, but Masterson looked good in some late-September relief outings and has plenty of bullpen experience from his days with the Red Sox. Francona called having him available out of the bullpen “quite a weapon” and “we plan to use it.”

Masterson was Cleveland’s Opening Day starter and was on the verge of his third consecutive 200-inning season before the injury. He still ended up leading the Indians with 193 innings, posting a 3.45 ERA and 195/76 K/BB ratio while allowing just 13 home runs. If the Indians make it deep into the playoffs moving him back into the rotation could be an option, but in the meantime he seems destined to get some high-leverage relief work.

Rays moving spring camp due to damage caused by hurricane

Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Rays are relocating their spring base for 2023 due to extensive damage to team training facilities caused by Hurricane Ian.

The Rays have trained since 2009 in Port Charlotte, Florida, about 90 minutes south of St. Petersburg, and intend to explore several options before making a decision on where to hold spring training and play Grapefruit League games when camp opens.

The team and Charlotte County released a joint statement Thursday, saying damage to Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte can’t be repaired in time to host games this winter.

“Charlotte County supports the Rays efforts to secure alternative accommodations for 2023 spring training,” the statement said.

“We are all disappointed for the residents of Charlotte County and the fans there. The community is in the thoughts and hearts of the Rays, and the team will continue to support recovery efforts,” the statement added. “The Rays and Charlotte County intend to develop a restoration plan for Charlotte Sports Park in the coming weeks.”