Salazar to get MRI, will skip at least one start

Indians righty will head back to Cleveland for further testing

Salazar to get MRI, will skip at least one start

MINNEAPOLIS -- Danny Salazar's right arm has betrayed him at a handful of turns this season. With Cleveland chasing a playoff spot, and time running out on the regular season, the timing of the pitcher's latest setback is especially problematic.

The Indians are not about to take any chances, though, so Salazar is scheduled to fly back to Cleveland on Sunday to have his throwing arm further examined. Salazar exited his start Friday night after four innings due to tightness in his right forearm and he will miss at least one turn in the rotation as a result.

"He's a little more sore today," Indians manager Terry Francona said prior to Saturday's game against the Twins at Target Field. "We'll get him worked up, get him imaged and all that, and then let the proper people look at it. Then, we can plan, when we know what's going on. There's really nothing else to do."

Salazar declined to discuss the situation with reporters on Saturday afternoon, when the right-hander was scheduled to undergo treatment on his ailing arm. The pitcher wanted to have more information on the injury before commenting. Once back in Cleveland, he will undergo an MRI exam and get a better handle on how to approach the final three weeks of the season.

In the meantime, the Indians have to fill out their crippled rotation.

The Indians' top three starters -- Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer -- have performed well of late, but the last two spots have been troublesome. Righty Josh Tomlin recently lost his grip on the No. 5 job, forcing Cleveland to use the bullpen-day approach on Monday against the Astros and again Saturday against the Twins.

Rookie Mike Clevinger was named the starter for Saturday, but he has been working out of the bullpen and is not currently stretched out to handle a full starter's workload. With Salazar now sidelined, however, Clevinger and Tomlin will stay in the rotation. They will start on Wednesday and Thursday against the White Sox, though Francona said the order of their outings remains to be determined.

After Triple-A Columbus' season ends, lefty Ryan Merritt might also be considered for a spot start, if needed. Due to the situation with Salazar, the Indians promoted reliever Austin Adams from Triple-A on Saturday to add an extra layer of depth to a bullpen that worked five innings on Friday night.

In 25 starts this season, Salazar has gone 11-6 with a 3.87 ERA and 161 strikeouts in 137 1/3 innings.

He started the year 10-3 with a 2.36 ERA and .597 opponents' OPS in his first 16 starts (99 innings), but has seen his performance drop off in the nine starts since that span. Dating back to July 9, which was the outing prior to being held out of the All-Star Game due to elbow soreness, Salazar has gone 1-3 with a 7.75 ERA and .916 opponents' OPS in 38 1/3 innings.

Salazar missed one start in early June due to shoulder fatigue and also spent time on the disabled list with elbow inflammation in August.

"Anytime you're going to miss a start, or you're sending a guy back, it's not ideal," Francona said. "But, I think the hope is that, we get him looked at, best-case scenario it's [muscular in nature] and he can knock it out and come back. If it's not, we'll deal with it. We don't know until we get it looked at. These things happen. It's the nature of being a pitcher."

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.