CLEVELAND (AP) — After weeks of being broken and bloodied, the Indians' pitching staff may have reinforcements in the World Series.
Starter Danny Salazar, who hasn't pitched since Sept. 9 because of tightness in his right forearm, has thrown well in recent bullpen sessions and might be able to pitch for the first time in this postseason.
Manager Terry Francona said Friday that Salazar has “let it go” during some recent workouts and has not been restricted to throwing only fastballs and changeups.
“I think he's ready to pitch,” Francona said as the AL champions awaited their Series opponent.
Salazar will throw a three-inning simulated game Saturday and the Indians will assess his status before deciding whether to have him on their World Series roster. Salazar went 11-6 with a 3.87 ERA in 25 starts, but Francona said it's possible the hard-throwing right-hander could be used in relief.
“I think the good news is if Danny pitches, and he pitches healthy and he's throwing the ball over the plate, we have a really good pitcher for however amount of innings he's built up for, which can potentially help us,” he said.
The loss of Salazar and Carlos Carrasco, who broke his right hand when he was hit by a line drive Sept. 17, has forced Francona to juggle his rotation and be creative with a bullpen which has been extraordinary in October.
But a healthy Salazar would give Francona an interesting weapon as he might be able to pair him with rookie Ryan Merritt for a start or use him with Mike Clevinger.
The Indians are also hoping Trevor Bauer will be available after his Game 4 start in the AL Championship Series lasted less than an inning when his stitched right pinkie opened up and he had to be replaced because of excessive bleeding.
Bauer sliced his finger open while repairing a drone prior to the ALCS, an unusual accident that put added strain on Cleveland's staff.
Bauer said Friday that his finger is healing and he's confident the added rest before the series opens will allow him to pitch. The quirky right-hander was asked when he'd be ready.
“Game 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7,” he said.
Francona was told of Bauer's comments.
“That would be a little better than the last series,” he said sarcastically.
Francona said the team met with hand specialist Dr. Thomas Graham to discuss Bauer's progress. After Bauer workout out on Friday, Graham was going to add another suture.
“He thinks it's healing really good, there's just that one area down at the bottom where the skin isn't quite as healthy as the rest of it,” Francona said. “So he's going to suture it back up so it won't bleed. That's really the only issue. And he's very confident that this is not going to be an issue.”
Indians ace Corey Kluber is expected to start Tuesday's Series opener, but Francona has not made any formal announcement as he wants to get through the next two days before setting his rotation.