July 31, 2014

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Indians notes: No word from Tribe on Justin Masterson offer

Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Justin Masterson throws Tuesday. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Justin Masterson throws Tuesday. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Ace Justin Masterson told reporters Tuesday that he is still waiting for a response from the Indians to his camp’s offer to take less money and a shorter-termed contract to remain in Cleveland.

“(The Indians are) working through it to see what they can do, how they feel about it, all that,” Masterson said after pitching four scoreless innings without allowing a hit Tuesday in a 7-1 victory over the Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. “(Owner) Mr. Dolan’s been out of town for a little while. He’s back, so we’ll see what happens. It’s still as it was.”

News broke of Masterson and his agent Randy Rowley offering a discount over a week ago. The pitcher, who signed a one-year, $9.7625 million contract to avoid arbitration in February, is reportedly seeking a three to four-year deal worth $40-$60 million.

If the Indians are waiting to see more evidence of Masterson’s worth, he provided a sliver in his latest exhibition effort. The big right-hander did hit two batters and walk one, but the rest was perfect.

It was no surprise to see Masterson hit a batter. He led the majors with 17 last year and has been among the leaders in the category since becoming a fulltime starter with Cleveland in 2010.

One of the hit batsmen did come as a surprise — former teammate Shelley Duncan.

“If you’re right-handed, there’s always a chance that if I lose a sinker it might go into your back,” Masterson said. “It’s nothing personal. Usually I don’t apologize when I hit people, but for Shelley, I gave him a little, ‘It wasn’t on purpose, my bad.”’

Third’s the word

According to manager Terry Francona, time doesn’t run out on Carlos Santana’s chances to win the starting job at third base when the Indians break camp for Opening Day.

“April 1 is kind of an artificial deadline,” Francona said. “We’ve got a long season ahead of us. Opening Day is a big day, but it’s not the final day.”

Santana’s competition, Lonnie Chisenhall, still thinks he can win the job, despite owning a minor-league option.

“I’m not playing against Carlos,” said Chisenhall, who hit his first home run in the Indians’ win over the Diamondbacks. “He’s already on the team. I’m not wishing anything bad on him. I want him to play well, offensively, but I’m going to go out there and win the third base job.”

Chisenhall is batting .273 (6-for-22) with a homer and three RBIs, and hasn’t committed an error in eight games. Santana is hitting .158 (3-for-19) with a double and three RBIs in six games. He has two errors, both of them on throws.

“I think he’s done everything we’ve asked him to do,” Francona said of Chisenhall. “It’s not perfect for either guy. I realize that. We’re trying to put the best team we can together, be fair and respectful of our players and then make a decision.”

Fearless leader

Players rave about Francona as a manager, person and recruiter. Centerfielder Michael Bourn, who played under Francona for the first time during his debut season in Cleveland, is no different.

“From Game 1 to 162, he has the same routine and he’s behind us,” Bourn said. “He’s not a manager that calls a whole bunch of meetings or tries to get on his players when he has a chance. He only speaks when he needs to speak. And when he speaks, you listen.

“He’s been doing this for a long time. He just tries to stay behind us no matter what the situation is.”

B there

It was a down day for two veteran pitching candidates — starter Aaron Harang and reliever Scott Atchinson — in a B game against the White Sox in Goodyear (7-7 tie).

Harang allowed two runs on five hits over three innings, but did strike out six. Atchinson allowed two runs on two hits and two walks over just 2/3 of an inning.

Bench candidate Elliot Johnson continued his hot spring with two hits. He’s batting .375 (6-for-16) with two triples, a home run and five RBIs in seven exhibition games.

Outfielder Ryan Raburn returned to action after missing time with minor injuries. He went 2-for-3 with a double.

Roundin’ third

  • The Indians lead the Cactus League with a 10-2-1 record.
  • Former Cleveland slugger Albert Belle did a guest spot for SportsTime Ohio during the game. Belle lives in Scottsdale.
  • Indians single-game tickets went on sale Monday.
  • Today, 4:05 vs. Padres at Goodyear Ballpark. Kluber (0-0, 3.00 ERA) vs. Ross (1-0, 0.00).

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him @CAwesomeheimer on Twitter.