Tribe hoping Salazar can join 'pen for playoffs

Indians also discussing whether to use a 3-man rotation for ALDS

Tribe hoping Salazar can join 'pen for playoffs

CLEVELAND -- There is not enough time for Danny Salazar to return as a starter for the Indians should they punch their ticket to the postseason. The hard-throwing right-hander could potentially offer Cleveland an intriguing option out of the bullpen.

Prior to Tuesday's game against the Royals, Salazar played catch up to a distance of 60 feet, marking his first time throwing since injuring his right forearm on Sept. 9 in Minnesota. Salazar's comeback is one more item for Cleveland to discuss, as the club begins examining possible playoff scenarios.

"There's a small chance he could be in our 'pen early in the playoffs," Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway said on Tuesday. "A one-inning stint or something like that. Of course, if you get a guy like that, you have to make sure he doesn't pitch back-to-back and things like that, so it'd be tough, even if he was healthy. But he'd be an option."

While Indians manager Terry Francona declined to delve into postseason hypotheticals for the American League Central-leading Tribe, Callaway also noted that the team would consider pitching starters Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer on short rest in an October setting.

Given the way the AL Division Series schedule is set up, a team could use its Game 1 starter in Game 4 on only three days of rest. Callaway said either Kluber or Bauer could handle that type of situation. If Cleveland did go that route, the club could field a three-man rotation for the first round.

"The good thing and the one thing we've discussed," Callaway said, "is Kluber and Bauer can probably pitch on three days' rest whenever you need them to, because they bounce back really good. We have that in our advantage, for sure, going into the playoffs. ... It's not a huge disruption to your routine, but some guys have never done it before.

"I think, if anybody could probably do it the best, it'd be Trevor, because he throws max speed every day. It probably plays in favor for Kluber, too, because he throws with max effort almost every day when he plays catch. I think those two guys could handle it pretty good."

The Indians' current No. 3 and No. 4 starters -- Josh Tomlin and Mike Clevinger, respectively -- will be monitored over the remainder of the regular season, as the team considers its October options.

"We've got to see how their stuff is," Callaway said, "how they're doing, are they attacking, are they doing the right things? We'll see. And just the makeup of our overall playoff roster. What do we need? Do we need length? Would we rather have one of those guys, even if they're pitching better, to be available in the 'pen to help us out, to extend a game and make it more of a five-inning game?

"We don't know. We're really going to have to figure all that out. I'm sure we'll sit down in the next two weeks and talk about it."

Cleveland also has to figure out if Salazar is a realistic option for the bullpen, too.

Tuesday's throwing session followed a 10-day period of rest for Salazar, who exited his last start with what was discovered to be a flexor strain in his forearm. The righty received a platelet-rich plasma injection and was given an estimated timetable of three to four weeks to return.

Salazar dealt with a shoulder issue in June, along with elbow problems in July and August, so the Indians are going to remain cautious with his latest comeback bid.

"I think you're always hoping for the best," Francona said. "I think the No. 1 priority -- not think, I know that the No. 1 priority is to get him healthy and have him feeling good about himself. If it ends up being more than that, boy that'd be wonderful. I think we need to go step by step."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for 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.