April 29, 2014

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- One of the major leagues' best yet underrated pitchers will start for the Cleveland Indians against the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday.

Right-hander Danny Salazar, 26, enters the game second in the American League with a 2.24 earned-run average. Opponents are batting just .183 against him, the league's second-lowest average against any pitcher. Salazar, who missed his last start Wednesday because of shoulder fatigue, is pitching on nine days' rest.

"His shoulder's fine," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "We probably were a little overly protective. But once you go one step too far with somebody, you can't take it back."

Salazar's tantalizing potential motivated Francona to be cautious last week.

"He's got a chance to be pretty special," Francona said. "He's got pitches to attack hitters, and he's starting to figure out the things to fall back on when things aren't perfect."

Opposing Salazar is left-hander David Huff, a 31-year-old journeyman making his second start of the season. Huff allowed five runs on eight hits -- including two home runs -- in 3 2/3 innings during Tuesday night's 6-3 loss to the New York Yankees.

The Angels are Huff's seventh major league organization. Los Angeles signed Huff on May 19, two days after the Kansas City Royals released him, and purchased his contract from Triple-A Salt Lake on Tuesday.

Huff went to high school in Huntington Beach, less than 20 miles from Angel Stadium, and played collegiately at UCLA and UC Irvine.

Cleveland seeks to maintain its three-game lead in the American League Central over the second-place Detroit Tigers. Los Angeles, meanwhile, hopes to build upon very recent success. The Angels needed a ninth-inning rally Saturday night to earn a 4-3 win and break a five-game losing streak.

"We're not going to give up," second baseman Johnny Giavotella said. "We're going to battle until the last out, whether we have a 10-game losing streak or a 10-game winning streak."

Right-hander Tim Lincecum will make his first major league appearance in nearly a year Sunday, when the Los Angeles Angels and the Cleveland Indians conclude their three-game series.

Lincecum, who won two Cy Young Awards and helped the San Francisco Giants win three World Series, made his last appearance June 27 and lasted only 1 2/3 innings before undergoing hip surgery in September. Released in November, Lincecum staged a showcase in Arizona on May 6 that attracted scouts from more than 20 teams, and signed with the Angels on May 20.

Signing Lincecum is the Angels' latest attempt to craft a patchwork rotation in the aftermath of injuries. Four starters -- right-handers Garrett Richards and Nick Tropeano, and left-handers C.J. Wilson and Andrew Heaney -- are on the disabled list, with Tropeano the only one expected to be activated soon.

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