Tribe options Salazar; rotation competition shrinks

Right-hander sent down after struggling with consistency this spring

Tribe options Salazar; rotation competition shrinks

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Throughout his young career, Danny Salazar has consistently overpowered hitters and teased the Indians with the kind of potential that makes him look like a future ace.

On Friday, Cleveland made it clear that Salazar still has room for growth, optioning the hard-throwing starter to Triple-A Columbus. The move comes one day after Salazar imploded in a Cactus League start against the Reds.

"We talked to Danny this morning and explained to him that he's going to open up the season in Triple-A," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "Just on the body of work in Spring Training, we think he'd be best suited to start in Triple-A and to, whether you say earn, perform his way back into helping us win.

"We all feel he is going to be a big part of what we do at some point. Just right now, he's not quite ready to do that."

That leaves left-hander TJ House and right-handers Zach McAllister and Josh Tomlin as the remaining candidates for the two vacancies in Cleveland's rotation. Francona said the Indians do not have a specific day in mind for announcing which two pitchers will break camp with the club as part of the Opening Day roster.

The Tribe opened the spring with only one job available, but lost free-agent addition Gavin Floyd to a fractured right elbow earlier in camp. When Floyd injured his elbow and underwent surgery, the 25-year-old Salazar appeared to be a leading choice to fill one of the Tribe's rotation spots.

But Salazar struggled with consistency this spring.

In 11 Cactus League innings, Salazar showed off his powerful right arm, piling up 15 strikeouts. He also walked five, surrendered five home runs, gave up 13 runs (10 earned) on 14 hits and turned in an 8.18 ERA. On Thursday, Cincinnati forced Salazar's pitch count up to 83 and struck for seven runs (six earned) on six hits in 3 1/3 innings.

Following the outing, in which he struck out six and walked none, Salazar was discouraged.

"After a game like this, [I don't feel] really good," Salazar said. "Physically, I'm good. But when you start a game good, and then you just lose your release point and you start leaving the ball up, and then you have to come down to the middle because you don't want to walk anybody and they start hitting you, you're going to feel [bad]."

The Indians want to see how Salazar responds at Triple-A to start the season.

"With all young players, they're learning to do the things that are necessary," Francona said. "I just think as guys grow up and mature and learn themselves, the guys that are good, or get good, they learn that sometimes there's another gear to their work. I think Danny is doing that now."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.