Salazar 'much, much better' after simulated game

Salazar 'much, much better' after simulated game

TORONTO -- If the Indians reach the World Series, there is a chance that right-hander Danny Salazar could find himself in the conversation for a roster spot. Right now, it remains only a chance, as Cleveland does not plan to rush the pitcher back into the mix if he is not fully healthy.

"He's not ready to pitch, yet," Indians manager Terry Francona said before Cleveland's 4-2 victory in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series on Monday, taking a 3-0 lead in the series. "Like I've been saying all along, and it's true, we want to see him 100 percent healthy, because that's a great way for him to go home this winter. If it ever led to something else, OK, great, but getting him healthy is the big thing."

• ALCS Game 4: Today at 4 p.m. ET on TBS/Sportsnet/RDS

During Sunday's workout at Rogers Centre, Salazar threw fastballs and changeups in a two-inning simulated game, while team president Chris Antonetti, pitching coach Mickey Callaway and members of the medical staff watched. The pitcher, who has been sidelined since Sept. 9 due to a right forearm strain, looked good and felt improved, according to Francona.

Game Date Matchup TV/Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 14 CLE 2, TOR 0 video
Gm 2 Oct. 15 CLE 2, TOR 1 video
Gm 3 Oct. 17 CLE 4, TOR 2 video
Gm 4 Oct. 18 TOR 5, CLE 1 video
Gm 5 Oct. 19 CLE 3, TOR 0 video

"[Sunday's workout] was the best progress he's made to date," Francona said. "He threw his fastball and threw it with pretty good velocity. He also threw his changeup and it didn't bother him, because in the past that had been bothering him a little bit. We're not ready to activate him, but he is doing much, much better."

Cleveland would not be able to activate Salazar for the ALCS unless there was an injury to another player on the roster. The Indians could, however, alter their roster for the World Series, if the team defeats the Blue Jays in the ALCS. To this point, Callaway and Francona have indicated Salazar would serve as a reliever in the event he did rejoin the roster.

Also of note from Monday:

• Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista caused a stir Sunday when he appeared to suggest that missed calls by the umpires had contributed to Cleveland taking a 2-0 lead in the ALCS. One factor that does help the Indians' pitching staff is the elite framing of catcher Roberto Perez, who ranks among baseball's best in pitch representation on close calls.

"That's always been his strength," Francona said. "His ability to receive has always been outstanding. Even when you talk to [first-base coach and catching instructor Sandy Alomar Jr.], he said even in Spring Training, 'Sometimes [Perez] gets bored because it's so easy for him. Sometimes you have to kick him in the pants.' As his confidence has grown this year, he's gotten to the point where he's catching the ball so soft that it does give him an advantage."

According to Baseball Prospectus, Perez ranked fourth in the AL and 13th in the Majors with 8.0 framing runs. Cleveland's catcher did so in just 3,160 chances, though. For comparison, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina had 9.4 framing runs this season in 8,962 chances. Perez's total chances ranked last among the top 13 catchers in that category.

 

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.