McAllister's versatility gives Francona options

McAllister's versatility gives Francona options

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians made it known early in camp that right-hander Zach McAllister would be on the Opening Day pitching staff in some capacity. Cleveland has yet to reveal whether it will be as a starter or reliever.

"The big thing is the guy's pitching well," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "Zach looks to me like he could probably do both right now, which is comforting."

Through 14 Cactus League innings, the 27-year-old McAllister has turned in a 3.21 ERA with 15 strikeouts against four walks across five appearances. The big righty is scheduled to work six innings on Saturday, when the Indians take on the Brewers in Maryvale.

Here are some more notes from Friday:

• The Indians are hoping that right-hander Danny Salazar (optioned to Triple-A on Friday) can improve the consistency of his work routine in the Minors before returning to the Major Leagues with the Tribe. Francona noted how starter Carlos Carrasco finally found a solid routine last season, leading to a high level of success as the year progressed.

"And it took Carlos a while," Francona said. "I got asked so many times, 'How can you be this patient with Carlos?' I don't know that we knew he was going to do this, but we wanted him to and we hoped. Now, you look up a year later and Carlos is in the weight room -- he's the first one in there every morning -- and he's found another gear working."

• All-Star outfielder Michael Brantley remained out of the lineup for the Indians on Friday, marking the fourth game in a row he has missed with back tightness. Francona said Brantley could miss a couple more games, because Cleveland does not want to risk putting him in a game before he is returns to full strength.

• Francona noted that veteran Nick Swisher (surgery on both knees in August) felt general fatigue in his legs on Thursday, leading the team to postpone his playing in a Minor League game. Swisher, who is unlikely to be ready for Opening Day, had been slated for game action on Friday.

• Francona said Brandon Moss has reached the stage in his return from right hip surgery (in October) where the manager is not even thinking about the injury. Said Francona: "He's done a fantastic job of getting ready. That's probably been a non-issue, which is kind of amazing when you think about it."

• Among the remaining rotation candidates, Josh Tomlin ranks first this spring with a 67 percent first-pitch strike percentage. TJ House (64 percent) and McAllister (63 percent) aren't far behind. House ranks first among the trio in 1-1 strike rate (68 percent) this spring.

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.