OAKLAND -- Danny Salazar has struggled to make any progress in his comeback from a right shoulder injury this season. In a few days, the Indians expect to know what exactly has been ailing the hard-throwing pitcher.
On Saturday, the Indians announced that Salazar is scheduled to undergo exploratory surgery on his right shoulder on Monday, with Dr. Keith Meister set to perform the procedure. After the surgery, the team will know more specifics about the timetable for Salazar's rehab and potential return.
Heading into this season, Salazar was expected to be a key part of the Indians' rotation, but he injured his shoulder during a winter workout in January and arrived at Spring Training behind the rest of the pitchers. At the time, the team expressed optimism about Salazar making a healthy return, but he has hit several snags in his throwing program in the months since the preseason.
At two different points in May, Salazar receiveved a pair of injections in his shoulder -- one a PRP injection, the other a cortisone shot -- and was shut down from throwing for a period of time after each. After resuming his throwing program both times, Salazar still encountered lingering issues with his shoulder. The Indians have noted that Salazar has dealt with an impingement and described the problem as right rotator cuff tendinitis.
Salazar's absence from the rotation during the spring opened the door for right-hander Mike Clevinger to seize a full-time role as a starter rather than be considered for the bullpen. During this season, the Indians have also leaned on rookies Shane Bieber and Adam Plutko to help stabilize the back end of the rotation due to not having Salazar as a viable solution.
Back in 2013, Salazar burst onto the scene with his high-octane fastball and a devastating split-change that was arguably one of the best pitches in baseball. That year, the untested rookie was even given the nod in the American League Wild Card Game against the Rays due to his tantalizing stuff on the mound. By 2015, Salazar was a rotation regular, winning 14 games and punching out 195 batters in 185 innings.
Salazar, who had Tommy John surgery as a Minor Leaguer in 2010, began to encounter more arm troubles in '16.
Through June, Salazar was 10-3 with a 2.22 ERA and was making a case to start for the AL in the All-Star Game. The righty earned a spot on the roster for the Midsummer Classic but did not participate after arm soreness began to arise. Salazar only logged 10 starts from July 1 on that season while dealing with elbow, shoulder and forearm problems, and he was only available as a reliever for the World Series against the Cubs.
Dating back to July 1, 2016, Salazar has posted a 5.20 ERA with a 1.49 WHIP in 147 innings, in which he has allowed 154 hits, including 24 home runs. The pitcher spent time on the disabled list with right elbow and shoulder injuries again in 2017 and -- for the second year in a row -- was unavailable as a starter by the time the postseason arrived.
Salazar hoped to have put all that behind him, even shifting the bulk of his offseason training to Cleveland before this season in order to work more closely with the team's training staff. Over the winter, the pitcher also avoided arbitation by signing a one-year, $5 million contract, which seemed like a steal given his potential. That potential has yet to be realized in 2018 in the form of a single pitch, and his availability for the rest of the year is again in doubt.