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New day, new face

New day, new face

BOSTON -- At a time when the Red Sox's farm system continues to churn out impact players, the latest phenom will make his Major League debut on Thursday afternoon at Fenway Park against the Angels.

Right-hander Justin Masterson will get rewarded for his terrific start this season at Double-A Portland. In four starts, Masterson is 1-0 with a 0.95 ERA.

"He's one of the nicest kids you'll ever meet, and I think his future is very bright," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "Hopefully we'll get a glimpse of some of that tomorrow."

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Masterson, who is a sinkerball specialist, was a second-round pick of the Red Sox in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft.

His development has been swift, even if this stint in the Majors is all but certain to only be one start.

With Josh Beckett (stiff neck and flu) and Daisuke Matsuzaka (flu) scratched the past two days, the Red Sox had to scramble for a starter to pitch the rubber match of this three-game series against the Angels.

Enter Masterson, who will work with catcher Kevin Cash. Jason Varitek has also been sidelined with the flu and will probably return to the lineup on Saturday night against the Rays.

Cash worked a little with Masterson during Spring Training.

"[He has a] good sinker, pretty good changeup and his slider, I know he was working on," said Cash. "I'm looking forward to it."

Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Justin Masterson (Major League debut)
The highly touted Masterson gets the thrill of making his Major League debut at Fenway Park in the finale of this three-game set against the Angels.

LAA: LHP Joe Saunders (3-0, 2.15 ERA)
A pair of Richie Sexson homers got in the way of an otherwise brilliant effort by Saunders against the Mariners on Friday, as he held them to six hits and no walks in eight innings while striking out two. Saunders has been the club's most effective starter in the early going, and he's now 18-8 in 37 career starts. He's 2-0 against the Red Sox with a 2.41 ERA in three career outings, and he won his only start at Fenway Park, giving up one run in 7 2/3 innings last season.

Short hops
Dustin Pedroia is 4-for-9 lifetime against Saunders. ... Center fielder Coco Crisp will be back in the lineup for the first time in nine days after having right hamstring woes. ... Shortstop Julio Lugo is hitting .457 during his nine-game hitting streak.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• NESN

On radio
• WRKO 680, SBN 1150 (Español)

Up next
• Friday: Red Sox (Tim Wakefield, 2-0, 3.96) at Rays (Matt Garza, 0-0, 9.00), 7:10 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Red Sox (Clay Buchholz, 1-1, 4.79) at Rays (Edwin Jackson, 2-2, 4.63), 7:10 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Red Sox (Josh Beckett, 2-1, 5.12) at Rays (James Shields, 2-1, 3.30), 1:40 p.m. ET

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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