"We're thinking about not only finishing in the beginning of October but going to the playoffs," Salazar said. "I think we need everybody. They need me. They need every starting pitcher and everybody in that clubhouse."
That is why Salazar understood the decision to have him sit out of the All-Star festivities with what the Indians described as mild elbow discomfort. The right-hander had a start in early June pushed back due to arm fatigue, and neither the team nor Salazar felt it was worth risking another setback with some minor discomfort lingering before the All-Star break.
"I agreed with them," Salazar said. "I didn't try to say something different, like I wanted to play. I know my priority is in Cleveland."
Salazar said he is feeling fine for the second half, too. He played catch during Thursday's optional workout at Target Field and threw off the mound in a bullpen session prior to Friday's game. As things stand, Salazar is on target to make his second-half debut on Tuesday against the Royals, as originally planned.
"Great. Amazing," said Salazar, when asked how he felt on Friday afternoon. "Rested and ready to get back on the mound."
Salazar is 10-3 with a 2.75 ERA and 118 strikeouts in 104 2/3 innings for the Indians this year. He has held opposing batters to a .204 average, while posting an AL-leading 3.8 WAR (per baseball-reference.com). The righty built a case for starting in the All-Star Game, but instead savored his first Midsummer Classic experience as a spectator.
Salazar said his favorite moments occurred behind the scenes.
"Sharing the same clubhouse with a lot of different guys from different teams," Salazar said, "you get to know a little bit about them. All the old guys like [David] Ortiz, [Miguel] Cabrera, [Robinson] Cano talking to you, giving you advice, good advice, I think that was the best part for me."
Salazar, who grew up rooting for Ortiz and the Red Sox in the Dominican Republic, said it was special to spend time with Boston's retiring slugger.
"His last one and my first one," Salazar said with a smile. "I'm glad that we got to share the same clubhouse and the same team for one time."
Now, Salazar's focus has shifted back to helping the first-place Tribe continue a possible march to the postseason.
"I'm ready. I know we're ready," Salazar said. "We'll see. I have really big hope that we're going to make it to October."