CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – If Danny Salazar pitches in the postseason for the Cleveland Indians, it won’t be in American League Division Series.
But if the Tribe advances beyond their opening round matchup against the Boston Red Sox, Salazar’s return remains a possibility.
As the Indians prepare for their ALDS showdown against the AL East Champion Red Sox, Salazar will be sent to Goodyear, Arizona to continue rehabbing the forearm strain which landed him on the shelf earlier this month.
The choice to send the young hurler out west will keep the 26-year-old from pitching out of the bullpen in the ALDS series against Boston, a necessary decision according to the team.
“Danny wasn’t ready to go and impact our team for the first series,” Indians President of Baseball Operations Chris Antonetti said during the team’s mandatory workout on Tuesday night at Progressive Field.
“But, that does not mean that he won’t have a chance to impact our team if we move on. Right now, he’ll continue on a throwing program, try to build up his arm strength, feel completely healthy and we’ll see where it goes from there.”
Throughout the process, the Indians have always tried to maintain their number one goal for Salazar’s rehab: Doing what is best for him and his long-term health. And this decision, while perhaps difficult, remained true to that objective.
“We’re being pretty consistent in what we’ve said all along,” manager Terry Francona said. “The first priority is to get him healthy. When that happens where it takes us, we’ll see. This puts him in the best position to do that.”
Salazar, who made the All-Star team this season and posted a 3.87 ERA over 25 starts, has thrown multiple bullpen sessions as he continues to work through his recovery. The right forearm of the hard-throwing hurler began to flare-up during his outing on Sept. 9, and further tests revealed the mild strain.
The arm issue was one of several the talented starter battled throughout the 2016 season.
When the chances of Salazar returning as a starter due to the injury dwindled, the hope was the righty would be able to contribute out of the ‘pen in the opening round series against Boston, throwing exclusively fastballs and changeups.
But as the process continued to unfold, it became apparent that Salazar would not be to a level capable of helping his club in the ALDS.
“Danny obviously wants to pitch,” Antonetti said. “They work throughout the course of the year and in Spring Training just to get to this point and have the opportunity to pitch or play in the postseason. Danny’s just not to that point. I think if he could pitch, he would.”
If the Indians are able to advance to the American League Championship Series, the club will reassess the righty to determine his availability, which will likely be as a relief pitcher, not a starter, for the rest of the postseason.
“He’s making significant progress,” Francona said. “And we think that there’s a possibility that a game might not be too off in the horizon.”