CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – Working his way back from a forearm injury, it’s all about the little milestones and mini victories along the recovery trail for Danny Salazar.
Because if he instead focused on what he isn’t able to do at the moment, he might go insane.
It is understandably tough for the 26-year-old righty to avoid some level of frustration. He’s forced to watch from the sidelines as his ball club, the Cleveland Indians, fight for a potential playoff spot despite numerous injuries to key guys along the way.
But instead of using his energies to worry about the what he’s missing, Salazar has transformed himself into the team’s biggest cheerleader.
“Things happen for a reason,” Salazar said. “If you let [the timing of the injury] get into your head, you’re just going to go crazy. You have to take it easy, take it day-by-day and just enjoy the moment.”
Right now, the moment involves the start of a recovery process from the mild forearm strain he suffered at the beginning of September.
Salazar, for the second straight day, played catch on the field prior to the Indians’ matchup against the Kansas City Royals at Progressive Field. The righty progressed to throws from 75 feet on Wednesday afternoon, but he also understands this rehab is going to take some time.
“I’m trying to get back, and I know I will,” he said. “By the way I feel right now, it’s good, and I’m really positive about it.”
Salazar is still a long way away from any legitimate discussion about a return to a Major League mound. Most of his early pregame work has been about getting the blood flowing and knocking some of the cobwebs in his right arm loose.
But it’s a start.
“I’m sure some of it is going to depend on how he feels, how aggressive they get, how quickly they get aggressive, and if they need to go slow, they will,” manager Terry Francona said. “Again, the priority is to have him feeling good. If he starts to feel real good, they can speed it up.”
For now, the process will be slow.
The next step is for Salazar to progress out to 90 feet on Thursday and continue extending farther each day. Beyond that, Cleveland is being very vague, leaving it largely open to how Salazar’s arm responds.
However, the Indians remain hopeful that Salazar may be ready to pitch out of the bullpen in the club’s potential opening round series of the MLB playoffs.
It may not be what they envisioned — any shot of a playoff rotation featuring Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar and Trevor Bauer is now gone thanks to injuries to Salazar and Carrasco — but getting some sort of contribution from Salazar in any capacity beats the alternative.
The right-hander shares the same hope for an ALDS return, but for now, he is taking it one step at a time.
“We’re doing everything we can right now,” Salazar said. “We’re on it. We’re working very hard. I’m getting my treatment every day, getting here early and doing everything I have to do so I can be healthy again.”