BOSTON -- Wednesday marks a first for young Red Sox starter Justin Masterson, and it's something that has the right-hander pretty excited.
It has nothing to do with him taking the mound; the 23-year-old Masterson did that on Tuesday in picking up his second career win in his third Major League start, a 7-4 Boston victory over Tampa Bay.
But there's a difference about this day following his mound appearance. Instead of immediately being moved back to Double-A Portland after his first career start against the Angels in April or Triple-A Pawtucket after his start against the Royals in May, Masterson will be sitting in the Red Sox dugout on Wednesday, watching his teammates face the Rays at Fenway Park.
It's a situation that Masterson's more than happy to be in after he took the place of the injured Daisuke Matsuzaka in the rotation. Being able to settle into the daily grind, chat with players and coaches and learn from those that have been around the game is something that can only help the promising young pitcher. He'll take the hill again on Sunday against Seattle.
"It's been nice to stick around and get to talk with the guys in the clubhouse a little more, guys like [pitching coach] John Farrell," Masterson said. "Just hearing what they have to say and how they go about their business, understanding the daily grind that is Major League Baseball.
"It should be a really exciting time. It's what everyone dreams of; I'm just living the dream right now."
Sox manager Terry Francona was excited about the prospect of keeping Masterson around, saying it'll have a strong influence on his development.
"It's good for him to pitch a game, then have his workday with us -- in this setting -- and then sit and watch us play a game," Francona said. "He's never had an opportunity to do that. He's been packing his bags; he's been going to another place. This should really help him."
Masterson cruised through his first two outings of the season, sporting a 1-0 record and allowing just two runs on five hits. Tuesday's matchup against the Rays forced Masterson to show his ability to get out of jams, allowing four runs on six hits but minimizing damage during potentially long innings.
Now comes the easy part: Being able to relax and interact with his Red Sox teammates in the dugout between starts without having to pitch.
"Even when you're sitting on the bench and stuff, you're able to watch the game, you can dissect the hitters," Masterson said. "You can see what our pitcher's doing, what they're pitcher's doing. You can take the whole scene in. It's really a whole work about it. I'm pretty excited."
Mark Remme is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.