Salazar headed to 'pen to work out of slump

Salazar headed to 'pen to work out of slump

CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona is known for not giving up on his players when they are slumping. Francona took that approach once again on Sunday, when he announced that right-hander Danny Salazar will move to the bullpen to work through his early-season struggles.

The news comes one day after Salazar took his fifth loss of the season, allowing four runs (three earned) on six hits with a career-high five walks in 5 1/3 innings in a 5-2 loss to the Royals. Before the Tribe's game on Sunday against the Royals, Francona said Salazar will throw on the side on Monday and will begin his stint in the bullpen either on Wednesday or Thursday.

"We talked to him this morning, and the plan is, we're going to put him in the bullpen," Francona said. "Not today. He'll throw a side tomorrow, then Wednesday, Thursday-ish [he'll be ready to work out of the 'pen]. The idea behind it is, he's not banished to the bullpen. We've done it with [Carlos] Carrasco, with [Trevor] Bauer. It allows him to focus more on ... his catch game every day because he's available to pitch every day. We're trying to, not start from scratch, but build a baseline to build confidence."

Although Salazar said he had no plans to move to the bullpen after his rough outing on Saturday, Francona said his pitcher was cooperative and is willing to make the switch.

"He was good," Francona said. "He was honest and he was good. He took ownership, so it's a good first step. [I] told him to go have a good work day today and that will be a good first step. Then, he'll throw a bullpen tomorrow and we'll get him back on the road to carving people up."

In 10 starts this season, Salazar has gone 3-5 with a 5.50 ERA. In 52 1/3 innings over those 10 outings, he has allowed 32 earned runs on 55 hits with 73 strikeouts and 28 walks.

"I think Danny was searching a little bit," Francona said. "Sometimes to be able to take a breath is [good], because when you're starting, you start the next day and there's no slowing down. So maybe this way he can sit there and actually watch the game from a different vantage point. There are a lot of things that can start to push this in the right direction."

Francona is hopeful that the move to the bullpen will help Salazar get back on the right track. He also said the righty may get a start in their upcoming road trip.

"We have all these off-days coming up and things like that, so we'll see how it goes," Francona said. "But we talked to him this morning, [about] why [we're doing this] and what we are trying to achieve. We wanted to make sure he knows he's not on his own here. We know he has to throw the ball, but we're not just asking him to do better. [Pitching coach Mickey Callaway is] here and we're all here to help. We're going to figure it out."

Lindor gets Sunday off

Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor was not in the team's starting lineup for the first time this season on Sunday, as Francona opted to give him the day off.

"Yeah, I think he needed it" Francona said. "I think he's played every single game, [so] I think it'll be good for him."

William Kosileski is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.