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Salazar takes step toward ALDS appearance

Recovering righty throws second bullpen session with more intensity
MLB.com @MLBastian

DETROIT -- The Indians are currently weighing a handful of ways to fill out their postseason pitching staff. Part of Cleveland's discussions revolve around right-hander Danny Salazar, who is doing everything he can to return as a reliever in time for the American League Division Series.

On Thursday morning, Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway said Salazar logged 30-plus pitches in a bullpen session on Wednesday at Comerica Park, taking another positive step forward in his comeback from a right forearm strain. Manager Terry Francona said it is still a bit premature to say whether Salazar will be ready in time for the postseason.

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DETROIT -- The Indians are currently weighing a handful of ways to fill out their postseason pitching staff. Part of Cleveland's discussions revolve around right-hander Danny Salazar, who is doing everything he can to return as a reliever in time for the American League Division Series.

On Thursday morning, Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway said Salazar logged 30-plus pitches in a bullpen session on Wednesday at Comerica Park, taking another positive step forward in his comeback from a right forearm strain. Manager Terry Francona said it is still a bit premature to say whether Salazar will be ready in time for the postseason.

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"The priority is to get him feeling good," Francona said on Thursday. "We wouldn't rush that to try to get him available. We really want him to be in a good place. And then, if it works, good. But we're not going to shortcut anything."

Wednesday's mound session was Salazar's second bullpen workout since injuring his forearm during a start on Sept. 9 against the Twins. The All-Star right-hander threw only fastballs on Monday, but he began mixing in his split-change during Wednesday's session. Callaway also indicated that Salazar increased the level of intensity on his throws with no problems.

Salazar made 25 starts this season for the AL Central-champion Indians, but he would only be cleared to pitch out of the bullpen in the first round of the postseason. Callaway added that the righty would only use his fastballs and split change as a reliever, as his curveball contributed to the forearm discomfort. This year, Salazar's fastball-change mix accounted for 86.7 percent of his pitches, so eliminating the curve for a one-inning scenario would not present a drastic adjustment.

"He kind of felt it on the curveball," Callaway said. "So that's one reason not to throw it. Another reason is he's not going to need it if he's throwing one inning. There's no reason for him to throw his third-best pitch."

Callaway did not rule out the possibility of building Salazar up for multi-inning outings if Cleveland advanced deeper into the postseason.

"Once he's thrown one inning," Callaway said, "there's a possibility the next time out he can go two with the appropriate rest, if he ends up pitching. I don't think we can just say it'd be one inning. Shoot, if we made it further than the first round, maybe he could do a limited start-type thing, who knows?"

Depending on how he bounces back from Wednesday's workout, Francona said Salazar might throw his next side session on Friday or Saturday. The manager added that a "perfect world" scenario would be getting Salazar into Sunday's game against the Royals for a pre-postseason trial run.

"Those are conversations we've all had," Francona said. "If you start trying to push something that's not there, that wouldn't be good. If he's ready to pitch on Sunday, you can bet that he has passed all his tests with everybody."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cleveland Indians, Danny Salazar