CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – In a sea of bad news, even the smallest hint of something good is welcomed with open arms. And make no mistake, the Indians’ arms are open as wide as possible.
Taking a break from the relentless barrage of the unfortunate, Cleveland pitcher Danny Salazar played catch for the first time since suffering a mild strain of his right forearm, extending out to 60 feet on Tuesday.
The righty’s afternoon throwing session adds to the club’s hope that Salazar will be able to return to the club in some capacity in the first round of the MLB postseason.
“This was his first day after being down, so it’s really just to kind of to shake the cobwebs off and everything went fine,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He’ll do roughly the same thing tomorrow, maybe a little more… Then we’ll start to see how he feels.”
Salazar suffered the injury — one of three the righty has battled at various points this season — on Sept. 9 vs. the Minnesota Twins. He was sent for an MRI, which revealed the mild forearm strain that was expected to sideline him for 3-4 weeks.
The original timetable essentially ended any possibility of Salazar pitching again before the end of the season, but his ability to help his club in the playoffs was still a question mark.
With Salazar beginning the slow process of his recovery, the team is still hopeful he will be able to contribute for the club out of the bullpen in the opening round of the postseason.
“I think you’re always hoping for the best,” Francona said. ” I know that the number one priority is to get him healthy and have him feeling good by himself. If it ends up being more than that, boy that’d be wonderful. I think we need to go step by step.”
Pitching coach Mickey Callaway told reporters he believes there is a small chance Salazar would be able to return in time to pitch out of the bullpen in the American League Division Series.
The Indians are looking to overcome a recent assault by the injury bug, losing Salazar, Carlos Carrasco and Yan Gomes to injuries over the past few weeks.
Carrasco (right hand) and Gomes (right wrist) each suffered a broken bone last week, likely ending any possibility of either playing in the postseason this year.
At this point, even the smallest bit of good news beats the alternative for Cleveland.
The shedding of tears is certainly nothing new at a wedding. But wedding tears over a baseball promotion? That might be a first.
Indians pitching prospect Adam Plutko learned of his promotion to the big league club while in his friend’s wedding in California over the weekend, which led to a memorable moment for the righty and his family.
“I couldn’t take the phone call right away, put it through to voicemail,” the 24-year-old hurler said. “They had literally just got done saying, ‘I do’ and taking pictures and everything.
“I got to have that moment in person. A lot of times it’s a phone call. For me it was all in person. It was pretty amazing… I’m pretty sure everybody was crying, including myself. It was a lot of fun. It was a moment I’ll remember for a long time.”
Plutko had taken a week off from throwing at the conclusion of the Triple-A postseason, thus, the righty will not be thrown into the fire with the big league club immediately. On Monday, Plutko played long-toss and threw off flat ground as he worked his right arm back into playing shape.
“It’s not too extensive,” he said of the process. “Just really try to get those fine-tuned things going that allow me to be the pitcher that I am.”
Plutko, who spent time between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus this season, was not originally going to be promoted to Cleveland in September, but the injury to Carrasco opened the potential to add another arm in the final weeks.
He will, however, remain unavailable in relief until Saturday’s bullpen anchored game against the Chicago White Sox at Progressive Field, a matchup which will be started by Cody Anderson.
“He’s not scared one bit,” Francona said of Plutko. “He’ll be a guy that gets every bit out of what he is because of his competitiveness. He’s pitched at UCLA, he’s been a high-profile guy in college. It’ll be fun to watch. There was a reason we called him up.”
After the injuries to Salazar and Carrasco, how will the Indians handle a potential playoff rotation?
One thought, at least on some level, is Cleveland could conceivably use a three-man rotation in October, with Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer pitching on short rest.
However, the team is still working through a number of scenarios.
“The good thing is Kluber and Bauer can probably pitch every fourth day, or whenever you need them to,” Callaway said over the weekend. “Bauer’s arm never hurts and Kluber’s just a beast. That helps. But, we’re going to prepare guys for the postseason and, if we get in, we’ll go from there.”
As for any thought on how the Indians will juggle their rotation, Francona was not prepared to offer anything beyond looking at the final two weeks of regular season baseball.
“There’s a lot of fun stuff to talk about like that, but we’re not there yet,” he said. “When it’s time to do that, I’ll be happy to share my thoughts. But we’re not there.”