CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – The next step in Danny Salazar’s recovery will include throwing a side session on Friday afternoon at Progressive Field.
Salazar, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Aug. 2 due to inflammation in his right elbow, was able to throw off a mound on Wednesday, and his next session is expected to feature an ability to throw all of his pitches.
By all accounts, the right-hander’s rehabilitation continues to progress as expected, and he remains on track to be activated from the DL when eligible to return (Aug. 17).
“He’s doing very well, as anticipated,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.
Salazar struggled in his last five starts leading up to the current stint on the disabled list, posting a 7.88 ERA over 24 innings during that stretch. A slight drop in velocity and seven homers allowed over the five starts set off some alarms, and the righty was sent for an MRI on his right elbow after complaining of some discomfort.
Thankfully, results of the tests came back clean, but Salazar was placed on the DL after being diagnosed with inflammation in the elbow and receiving a cortisone injection.
Despite being selected to the American League squad, Salazar did not pitch in this season’s All-Star Game, partially due to his bothersome elbow. He was also skipped once in the rotation earlier this season because of some right shoulder fatigue.
Overall, the 26-year-old hurler has posted 3.38 ERA in 20 starts this season for Cleveland. The righty has struck out 133 and walked 51 in 117 1/3 innings in 2016.
Meanwhile, Indians catcher Yan Gomes still must navigate a long road to full recovery.
However, the 29-year-old backstop recently began participating in some light baseball activities, and the range of motion in his right shoulder has been gradually increasing.
“He still has healing to do, but he’s doing really well,” Francona said. “If you can get better faster from trying hard, he’ll be better. He’s giving it everything he has.”
Gomes suffered a separated shoulder on July 17 in Minnesota, an injury which was expected to sideline him 6-8 weeks.
Even before the injury, this season was already one worthy of forgetting from an offensive standpoint.
Gomes was slashing just .165/.198/.313 with eight homers in 71 games played prior to suffering the AC joint separation.
The Indians are still working through the best plan of action for outfielder Michael Brantley, and the club is hoping to reach a resolution within the next few days.
“What we’re doing now is everybody is putting their heads together, including Mike,” Francona said. “He’s been a part of this the whole way, as he should be. I would think in the next couple of days, we will have some more, definite plans for what he’s going to do. It’s not just if he has surgery, but what kind of surgery, where, things like that.”
Brantley’s latest setback led him to be examined by Dr. Stephen O’Brien at the Hospital of Special Surgery in New York City, and it was then confirmed that Brantley is experiencing symptoms consistent with chronic biceps tendinitis.
The 29-year-old outfielder has frequently been delivered bad news throughout several attempts to return from off-season shoulder surgery.
Despite missing the talented left fielder for all but 11 games this season, the Indians have maintained their first-place status in the AL Central and own one of baseball’s top 10 offenses this season.
“I think our guys have been good about just playing,” Francona said. “Whatever happens, keep playing. It’s the best way to go about it. It’s easier said than done sometimes, but it’s the best way to do it.”
Reliever Tommy Hunter is currently scheduled to begin a Minor League rehab assignment with Triple-A Columbus on Friday.
The hard-throwing righty has been sidelined since suffering a non-displaced fracture in his lower-back last month.
“I think he probably will [need multiple outings],” Francona said. “That can change with need… Tommy is not a touch-and-feel guy by any means, so to allow him to go out there and grip it and rip it, you would want him to feel, because that’s when he’s successful.”
Hunter owns a 3.74 ERA (3.12 FIP) in 21 appearances for Cleveland this season.
Following Francona’s recent health scare, the Tribe’s manager was back to his self-deprecating ways prior to Thursday’s series opener against the Los Angeles Angels at Progressive Field.
“I’m the picture of health,” Francona joked.
The 57-year-old skipper complained of chest pains prior to Tuesday’s game against the Washington Nationals. As the day progressed, he began to experience an elevated heart rate and broke out in a heavy sweat, leading to a full medical checkup at the stadium.
Francona has a history of blood clots and pulmonary embolisms, so for precautionary reasons, bench coach Brad Mills managed Tuesday’s game and Francona was sent back to the team hotel. However, Francona was back in the dugout for Wednesday’s game, feeling much better.
“I think I set the record for most [received] smart-aleck text messages in the history of the game,” Francona said.