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Salazar not on pace for Opening Day roster

Indians starter throwing at 90 feet in return from shoulder injury
MLB.com @alysonfooter

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Opening Day is still a few weeks away, but the remaining time left in Spring Training will not be enough for starting pitcher Danny Salazar to be ready for the start of the regular season. Mike Clevinger instead will nab the final spot in the rotation, with Salazar spending his time not competing for a job, but rather, just getting healthy.

Salazar, battling right shoulder inflammation, remains a few weeks behind in his throwing program. As of Monday morning, he had progressed to throwing at 90 feet.

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Opening Day is still a few weeks away, but the remaining time left in Spring Training will not be enough for starting pitcher Danny Salazar to be ready for the start of the regular season. Mike Clevinger instead will nab the final spot in the rotation, with Salazar spending his time not competing for a job, but rather, just getting healthy.

Salazar, battling right shoulder inflammation, remains a few weeks behind in his throwing program. As of Monday morning, he had progressed to throwing at 90 feet.

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"He is going in the right direction," manager Terry Francona said. "If he does that for a couple of days, then the next thing will be maybe throwing off the mound, which I don't think we're too far away from."

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Another high-profile rehabber is also progressing well, according to the skipper. Michael Brantley, recovering from right ankle surgery, has been taking full rounds of batting practice and is now working on movements on defense.

"Brantley's doing terrific, to where he's getting antsy and bugging everybody -- which I figure is really good," Francona said.

Francona hesitated to give a time table for Brantley's return, but said he is pleased with the outfielder's efforts.

"Spend five seconds around him, you know how hard he works," Francona said. "He'll be ready when he's ready. I do think the good part of this is when he's ready hopefully he can stay ready."

Indians Spring Training info

Camp battles
It was a ho-hum day for the Tribe's offense against the Dodgers on Monday. The entire team combined for four hits and one run in an 8-1 loss.

The Tribe's quiet day at the plate extended to a handful of players hoping to make the team as an extra outfielder. Tyler Naquin was 0-for-3, Melvin Upton Jr. was 0-for-2 with a walk and Brandon Barnes was also 0-for-2 with a walk.

In other words, Monday's game didn't make that picture any clearer.

Naquin, a former first-rounder who enjoyed a breakout season two years ago, is one of the few outfielders on the active roster competing for one of the final spots. Others -- Rajai Davis, Upton, Barnes -- are non-roster invitees.

Naquin has five hits in 16 spring at-bats.

"The No. 1 thing is being healthy," he said before Monday's game. "Putting yourself in the right position, taking care of yourself in order to be in that position. I feel like I'm in a great spot."

Pipeline musings
Being an up-and-coming shortstop in the Indians' system might seem on its face less than ideal, considering All-Star Francisco Lindor is under club control until 2022.

But that should not, and does not, affect how Willi Castro will be evaluated by the Indians as his development through the club's Minor League system continues.

"We try to explain to the guys, don't look at what you perceive as road blocks," Francona said. "Normally if you can help a team win, teams are going to find a place for you. We tell them all the time, it might not be on their time table, but if you can play ..."

Prospects can switch positions. They can also be used as a trade chip for a club to strengthen other areas. Castro's fate has yet to be determined, but like every young player in big league camp, now is simply the time to show what he can do.

The 20-year-old Castro, who started at short on Monday, is ranked as the No. 5 prospect in the Indians' system. At Class A Advanced in 2017, he slashed .290/.337/.424, while slugging 11 homers and stealing 19 bases in 123 games.

Video: Top Prospects: Willi Castro, SS, Indians

He will eventually be sent to Minor League camp, where he will receive more playing time, aiding his ability to prepare for his upcoming season.

"He's getting valuable experience, and we're getting to know him, which we think is valuable," Francona said. "The organization really thinks highly of him, obviously."

Up next
The Indians will play their in-state rival and Goodyear neighbors, the Reds, at Goodyear Ballpark on Tuesday at 3:05 p.m. ET (watch live on MLB.TV). Rotation mainstay Carlos Carrasco will make his first start and second appearance of the spring. His first outing was a fourth-inning appearance on March 2 against the Rangers, during which he yielded two hits and one run. The Reds will counter with lefty Brandon Finnegan, who will make his first appearance of the Cactus League season.

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.

Cleveland Indians, Danny Salazar