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Salazar among Indians making rehab progress

Special to MLB.com

BALTIMORE -- The Indians' collection of injured players all remain on the shelf for now, but there has been enough progress made during their rehab work that manager Terry Francona has a positive outlook about their return, especially in the case of starter Danny Salazar.

The right-hander has been sidelined all season with right shoulder inflammation, but Francona said Friday that Salazar's bullpen work during extended spring camp in Arizona has been encouraging, although there was no discussion of a timetable for his return.

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BALTIMORE -- The Indians' collection of injured players all remain on the shelf for now, but there has been enough progress made during their rehab work that manager Terry Francona has a positive outlook about their return, especially in the case of starter Danny Salazar.

The right-hander has been sidelined all season with right shoulder inflammation, but Francona said Friday that Salazar's bullpen work during extended spring camp in Arizona has been encouraging, although there was no discussion of a timetable for his return.

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"We're cautiously optimistic that he's kind of turned a corner," Francona said. "His intensity in the bullpens has been good and he says he feels pretty good. So that's good."

Third baseman Gio Urshela continues to rehab his right hamstring strain with Triple-A Columbus. After a day off Thursday, Urshela was expected to play five to seven innings with the Clippers on Friday, "depending on how much running and how the game is going," Francona said.

Cody Anderson (elbow) continues to throw bullpen sessions in Arizona as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, while Ryan Merritt (left knee) also continues to work during extended spring camp.

"Merritt is going to throw one more game in Arizona and then he'll start his rehab progression," Francona said. "And he's starting to feel pretty good."

Tribe hopeful busy stretch, weather helps offense

Aside from their brief trip to Puerto Rico, the weather has not been kind to the Indians this season, both from a hitting and schedule standpoint. So while the upper-50s temperatures on Friday in Baltimore didn't have anyone thinking summer, they did provide some relief to a frigid April.

"In my career, I've never played so many games this cold," first baseman Yonder Alonso said. "But it is what it is. You can't really put that as an excuse. You would like to say it's mind over matter, for sure. Obviously, with the weather, you may hit some balls that you think may carry a little bit more in the summertime, but at the end of the day, you've got to grind the at-bats."

In addition to the cold, the rainouts and off-days have also wreaked havoc on the Tribe's hitting habits. Friday's game marked the start of a stretch in which Cleveland will play 18 games in 17 days, something that Francona sees as helpful for his squad.

"Hopefully Mother Nature cooperates, because we are such a game built on rhythm and timing," he said. "We've got a lot of baseball coming up. Hopefully we play it, because that will be good for us."

Entering Friday, Cleveland had put together five straight games of double-digit hits to raise its batting average from .158 to .208, but that remains last in the Majors.

"You have to find a way to make an adjustment, simple as that," Alonso said. "For us, it's not putting that much thought into the weather being cold, because the other side has to deal with the same thing."

Elliott Smith is a contributor to MLB.com.

Cleveland Indians, Danny Salazar