Needing 'time away,' Salazar leaves Indians

September 3rd, 2019

CLEVELAND -- The Indians may have seen the last of .

Indians manager Terry Francona said that Salazar has asked his organization for some time away from baseball, and the team has granted him permission to go back to his home in Tampa, Fla.

While making his first big league start since 2017 at the beginning of August, Salazar sustained a right groin strain that quickly landed him back on the injured list. He took some time to recover in Tampa, coming back to Double-A Akron and making three rehab appearances. But his last one didn’t go as well as Salazar would’ve liked.

Salazar was slated to toss two innings for the RubberDucks on Sunday, but he came off the mound from his first scoreless frame saying he didn’t feel physically well enough to go back out for another inning.

“He just said after the first inning he pitched he just didn’t feel like he could go out for the second inning,” Francona said. “Then when he left the ballpark that night, he said he felt pretty good. So then he just asked, he goes, ‘I just need a little time away.’”

Last offseason, the Indians avoided arbitration with the 29-year-old Salazar in November, agreeing to a one-year, $4.5 million deal after he missed all of 2018 due to right shoulder tendinitis that eventually required shoulder surgery. But the fact that he’s missed essentially all of the '19 Major League season makes him a non-tender candidate for the upcoming offseason.

When a club “non-tenders” a player, it declines to give that player a contract for the upcoming season, thereby immediately making him a free agent. Players on the 40-man roster with fewer than six years of Major League service time must be tendered contracts each offseason by a set deadline or the player is non-tendered and released to the free-agent pool. Salazar has one arbitrational year remaining and the Indians could cut ties before the non-tender deadline.

Will the Indians see Zimmer this year?

When the Indians pushed back the start date of 's rehab assignment to line it up closer to Sept. 1, it gave the impression that the team was eyeing to bring the outfielder up to the big league level. But Francona has been clear that he doesn’t want anyone to be called up just to sit on the bench when they could be playing elsewhere. That sentiment includes Zimmer, who’s been out since June 2018. He underwent shoulder surgery last July and had setbacks with both obliques since Opening Day this season.

“He’s doing OK,” Francona said. “We just want to let him get as many at-bats as he can. Everybody wants to be in the Major Leagues, and I totally understand that. Just with the amount of time he’s missed, the more he can play, the better.”

Injury updates

: Kluber had worked himself all the way back to the point of being on the brink of rejoining the Indians' starting rotation, but he suffered a left oblique strain in his last rehab start. Kluber has now progressed to doing exercises in the pool, but nothing land-based just yet.

: Naquin was shown on the Indians' videoboard during Monday’s 11-3 win over the White Sox at Progressive Field, sitting in a suite watching his teammates with his leg elevated and his crutches beside him. He tore his right ACL as he crashed into the left-field wall vs. the Rays on Friday, and the Indians are in the process of choosing which doctor will perform his surgery. According to Francona, there’s a few surgeons in Cleveland and one in Houston who may carry out the procedure.

This date in Indians history

2000: Kenny Lofton went 4-for-7 with four runs scored, five stolen bases and a walk-off solo homer in a 12-11, 13-inning victory against Baltimore. Lofton’s five steals matched the Indians' franchise record, while he scored at least one run for an 18th consecutive game, tying the MLB record set by Red Rolfe in 1939.