Salazar to rejoin rotation Thursday

Salazar to rejoin rotation Thursday

CLEVELAND -- In order for the Indians to get to where they want to go, having Danny Salazar healthy and confident in his electric right arm is critical. Following a bout with elbow soreness, the pitcher is feeling much improved and poised to rejoin the fold.

If everything goes according to plan with no setbacks, Indians manager Terry Francona said Salazar will come off the 15-day disabled list to start on Thursday against the White Sox. The righty worked through an aggressive simulated game on Sunday at Progressive Field and reported no issues on Monday morning.

"Hopefully this did the trick," Francona said of Salazar's stint on the DL, "and for the last several weeks of the regular season, he'll be [better]. It doesn't always mean that you're going to win, but it's nice to let a guy go out there and be himself."

After Salazar's Aug. 1 outing against the Twins, who chased the right-hander after only two innings, he complained of soreness in his right elbow. The pitcher indicated that the issue had been a problem for a few weeks, and Cleveland put him on the shelf the following day. Salazar sat out of the All-Star Game due to elbow discomfort and he skipped a start in early June due to shoulder fatigue.

Shortly after Sunday's 5-4 win over the Angels, Salazar played catch, worked up to long toss and then went through a bullpen session, as if he were warming up for a regular start. The pitcher then took the mound at Progressive Field and threw a one-inning simulated game with a batter standing in from both the left and right side of the plate.

Salazar said he tested all his pitches and really pushed his arm.

"It got me pumped up a little like being in a game," Salazar said. "I really tried to go full intensity there."

Through 20 starts this season, Salazar is 11-4 with a 3.38 ERA, piling up 133 strikeouts against 51 walks in 117 1/3 innings for the Tribe. After going 10-3 with a 2.36 ERA in his first 16 starts, however, the right-hander turned in an 8.84 ERA in his four starts leading up to his DL stint.

Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway said the team had Salazar throw on the Progressive Field mound in order to look deeper at his mechanics and results.

"I really saw a pretty good Danny Salazar," Callaway said. "Then, we took him out on the main field and put him on Trackman, just to see all the numbers. His extension was good. He was using his legs well. All the numbers lined up. He's doing really good."

Francona noted that righty Mike Clevinger, who has been in the rotation during Salazar's absence, will move to the bullpen, beginning on Tuesday. That will provide some insurance for Salazar, who will be on an unspecified pitch count for his return to the starting staff.

"He won't throw 100 pitches, I promise," Callaway said. "We're not sure exactly what that pitch count will be. We'll lean on him during the game to figure that out."

Worth noting

• Indians outfielder Michael Brantley was scheduled to undergo surgery on Monday to address the right shoulder and biceps issues that have troubled him all season. Dr. Keith Meister and Dr. Mark Schickendantz were slated to perform the operation in Dallas. The Indians announced late Monday that they would likely be able to announce more details about the surgery on Tuesday.

• The Indians activated right-hander Joseph Colon (right shoulder inflammation) from the 15-day disabled list on Monday and optioned him to Triple-A Columbus. Colon, 26, posted a 2.45 ERA in three games for the Indians, striking out four in 3 2/3 innings. The righty has a 1.04 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings for Columbus this year.

• The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball announced Monday that Indians Minor League pitcher Skylar Arias has received a 56-game suspension without pay after testing positive for Nandrolone, a performance-enhancing substance in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Arias, 19, had a 3.72 ERA with 20 strikeouts and three walks in 19 1/3 innings in the Arizona (Rookie) League.

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.