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Red Sox to place Justin Masterson on DL, and he’s not happy about it

Justin Masterson has a 6.37 earned run average in seven starts with the last two particularly troubling.Elise Amendola/Associated Press/File

OAKLAND, Calif. — Justin Masterson is as genial a professional athlete as you will find. But as he sat at his locker on Wednesday and answered questions, the righthander was angry.

Masterson doesn’t have a particular injury but the Red Sox are set to place him on the disabled list, probably on Thursday. Steven Wright is the leading candidate to join the rotation and start against the Seattle Mariners on Sunday.

One thing the Sox made clear: Masterson is out of the rotation for now.

“We’re moving toward a likely DL for him,” manager John Farrell said before a 2-0 victory over Oakland. “There’s not one specific area to the arm or shoulder that is a cause or reason why we’re seeing reduced velocity, reduced action. There’s some fatigue that’s involved. I think it’s important that we allow this to calm down.”


Masterson has a 6.37 earned run average in seven starts. But the last two were particularly troubling. He lasted only 6⅔ innings in those games, allowing 10 earned runs on 13 hits — three of them home runs — and seven walks.

Masterson went 2⅓ innings against Oakland on Tuesday, giving up six runs. Only one of his 57 pitches reached 90 miles per hour.

Masterson will not fight the decision to be taken off the active roster but made it clear he disagrees with it.

“I’m not real happy about it. I’m mad,” he said. “Like I said [Tuesday], I hold true just to the fact I thought we could make the adjustment and really be fine. It didn’t happen.”

Masterson made three quality starts in his first five outings, the only real clunker coming on April 14 against the Nationals when he allowed seven runs in 4⅔ innings. But the 30-year-old has regressed sharply in his last two games.


The Red Sox are 16-18 and the weakness of the rotation has become glaring.

“It’s one of those if we’re doing great I probably get a little more leeway. The last two starts have been different than the first five. I can’t deny that fact. As I told [Farrell], I’m not real happy about the decision,” Masterson said.

Before he returns to the team, Farrell said Masterson would have to pass some tests.

“We can’t afford that next test to be in a regular game for us,” he said. “We’ve got to address some things.”

Masterson has a 6.11 ERA and 1.66 WHIP in 32 starts since the start of last season. The Red Sox signed him to a one-year, $9.5 million deal before the season hoping a return to health could make him a viable starter. Now it’s uncertain when he’ll pitch again.

“We’re going to make the best of it. I have to do it. There’s no way around it so I’m going to make the best of it,” Masterson said. “In the end it’ll be extremely beneficial. That’s what we do with the time that we’re given.”

Masterson said he’s not necessarily trying to regain the form that made him an All-Star in 2013. He’s trying to compete with what he has now and knows it has to improve.

“We don’t want 75 percent of an 80 percent Justin,” he said.

Said Farrell: “He accepted it begrudgingly. At the same time, we have to be realistic. When you see it two consecutive times, that’s a little bit different than a mulligan.”


No determination has been made on a starter for Sunday. That decision should come on Thursday.

“Steven Wright’s a strong candidate,” Farrell said.

Wright replaced Masterson on Tuesday and allowed three runs over 5⅔ innings. Wright has pitched twice in the majors this season, giving up five runs over 10⅔ innings. He was 2-1 with a 3.24 ERA in four starts for Triple A Pawtucket.

Wright started the season on the major league roster and was being prepared to start the fifth game of the season if Joe Kelly wasn’t ready to come off the disabled list.

“Even when we broke spring training, he was in consideration for a spot if needed. He’s done nothing but continued to support that,” Farrell said.

Wright is 2-0 in two appearances against Seattle in his career, throwing 8⅔ scoreless innings. He has faced six players on Seattle’s roster and they are 2 for 14 against him. Wright also has pitched a game at Safeco Field.

If Masterson goes on the disabled list on Thursday and Wright moves into the rotation, lefthander Robbie Ross Jr. could return from Triple A Pawtucket and go into the bullpen. Dalier Hinojosa and Heath Hembree also would be options.

Castillo hurts ankle

Rusney Castillo left Wednesday’s Pawtucket game in the third inning with an injured left ankle following an awkward slide into second base.

“He came in afterward and said he’s ready to go. We’ll see how he checks out,” PawSox manager Kevin Boles said.


Castillo has had several injuries since being signed to a seven-year, $72.5 million deal in August.

He missed time in winter ball with a jammed right thumb. An oblique strain cost Castillo several weeks in spring training, then he missed three weeks with a strained right shoulder.

“After the history here, and seeing that slide, it was pretty scary,” Boles said. “We just want to make sure we err on the side of caution, get him evaluated.”

Castillo is hitting .280 with a .685 OPS in 13 games for Pawtucket and has yet to hit a home run.

California dreaming

The Sox won their first series at Oakland since 2008 and their first three-game series against the A’s since 2006 . . . Dustin Pedroia (2 for 4) has hit safely in seven straight games and reached base safely in 18 in a row. He is up to .292 . . . David Ortiz has gone 60 at-bats since his last home run on April 24 . . . The Sox are 10-2 when they score first . . . Opponents have committed 38 errors against the Sox, leading to 25 unearned runs. Marcus Semien’s throwing error gave the Sox a run in the eighth inning . . . Oakland’s Coco Crisp reached on an infield single in the fifth inning. He had been hitless in 30 at-bats dating to last season. Crisp comically took some bows when he reached first and pretended to ask for the ball. Crisp has no problems in the field. The left fielder made catches that robbed hits from Daniel Nava and Pedroia. He took a hit away from Mike Napoli on Tuesday and another from Pedroia on Monday. “He won a Gold Glove just in two games,” Nava said.


Alex Speier of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.