Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Justin Masterson Perfect in Three Innings for Red Sox; Matt Kemp Making Impact for San Diego

Players of the Day for Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Grapefruit League

After a bitterly disappointing 2014 campaign, the Boston Red Sox are undergoing a complete makeover. In the case of Justin Masterson, it's back to where they started, as the 6'6" right-hander returns to the team with which he started, back in 2008.

A trade brought Masterson to Cleveland in 2009, where he spent the next four full seasons, before heading to St. Louis in the middle of 2014. The Red Sox picked him up in a free agency deal and recently signed him to a one-year, $9.5 million deal.

So far, so good, as Masterson has allowed just one hit in five innings this Spring. On Tuesday, his three innings of shutout, no-hit ball propelled Boston to their fifth win in seven outings, a 5-1 victory over the Rays. He fanned four without issing any bases on balls.

five more hurlers followed Masterson to the mound, allowing a total of just three hits. Tampa Bay finally broke through for its only run in the eighth inning, though by then, the result had already been largely determined. Tampa Bay is 1-4 thus far into the Grapefruit League season.

Cactus League

Kemp: .545 BA
The odd man out in the Dodgers' crowded outfield last season, Matt Kemp took the off-season route down the road to San Diego, and, from the looks of things thus far, he's going to add a ton of offense to the Padres' lineup in 2015.

Kemp went 3-for-3 as San Diego doubled up the Giants, 10-5, including his first homer of the pre-season, a three-run, third-inning blast.

A two-time All-Star, Kemp nearly captured the NL MVP back in 2011, when he batted .324 with 39 homers and 126 RBI. He led the league that season in the power categories and his batting average was good for third overall, but he fell short in the voting to Ryan Braun, who was later punished for using performance-enhancing substances.

Kemp should probably have won the award, and while the revelations about Braun may have been somewhat of a tonic to him, his last three seasons with the Dodgers have not been nearly up to the quality of that 2011 season. Everybody in San Diego is hoping Kemp will return to all-star form. He's batting a healthy .545 (6-for-11) thus far.

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